I'm interested ... but where do I even begin?
Attend a free orientation in your community to learn more about what it means to be a foster parent. After orientation, you'll have 30 more hours of training (required by the state of Florida of all foster parents), and you'll also undergo background screenings, employment and reference checks, and complete an in-depth home study, which allows us to really get to know you.
What type of background screening will you do?
The safety of our children is our number-one priority, so we do a very thorough check on all families interested in fostering. We fingerprint all prospective foster parents, and we run background checks to make sure there aren't any abuse allegations or other disqualifying criminal offenses.
Is there an age requirement for foster parents?
All foster parents must be at least 21 years old. You must also be in good health, and we'll ask for a statement from your physician that confirms you're healthy and able to care for our kids.
How do you "screen" homes?
During our thorough home study, we'll ask a lot (and we mean A LOT!) of questions to explore your personal and family background, your motivations for fostering, and your strengths as a family. We'll also ask for personal and employment references so we can have a well-rounded understanding of the families we trust to care for our kids. We also require all foster homes to have health and fire inspections (we'll help you set these up!). The process may seem intrusive at times, but it's only because we must ensure that our children, who have already endured so much, will be welcomed into safe, loving homes.
This 30-hour training ... what's that all about?
The state of Florida requires all foster and adoptive parents to complete a 30-hour training course, often called MAPP or PRIDE. Even if you have kids, this course will open your eyes to the differences you'll need to understand when it comes to parenting our kids. You see, when it comes to parenting and nurturing traumatized children, there's a lot to learn, a lot to know and a lot to adapt to! This course is the first step in helping you understand how to best care for our kids.
Additionally, the training helps you understand your role as the child's advocate as well as the roles of everyone else on the team, which also includes Children's Home Society of Florida, the birth parents, a Guardian Ad Litem and others.
What other support do you provide, after the training?
Really, the support is never-ending. We provide monthly trainings and host activities just for our foster families. We can also connect you with other foster parents experiencing similar challenges and rewards, as you'll find this network of parents to be an incredible resource in your journey. We're also here whenever you have questions, from paperwork to visitations.
What if I want to adopt the child in my home?
Foster parents have a very special place in our children's lives, and we have such respect and appreciation for all they do. In nearly all instances, foster parents will provide the safe, loving family for a child until he or she can safely return home. Sometimes, though, a child can never safely return home and may become available for adoption. If this happens, you can work with your specialist to see if adoption is the best option for everyone involved.
I've heard of therapeutic foster care, too. What's that?
Children who have suffered extreme trauma may suffer from severe emotional challenges, thus requiring intense care by foster parents who have completed very specialized training that prepares them to best care for these kids. Therapeutic foster parents share a special attitude of compassion and commitment, and they find the same attitude in their support team of Children's Home Society of Florida counselors, therapists and case managers.
OK, I think I'm ready. Whet's the next step?
Contact your local foster care team to inquire about the next adoption orientation session in your community.