Foster Care

In Florida each year, there are between 9,000 and 10,000 children who are removed from their home because they experienced neglect or abuse at the hands of a family member. It is no longer safe to live at home, at least for awhile ... but perhaps forever.

If there are no relatives able to care for them, they are placed in a group home or with a foster family. What sets foster parents apart is their ability to love a child like one of their own, regardless of whether the child lives with them for a month or for more than a year. Foster parents have the challenging task of providing an atmosphere that helps a child heal and prepare to go back home, if possible, or on to a new permanent home. Foster parents are a vital resource for these children as they wait in limbo, between a past that was painful and a future that is uncertain.

Here are some questions to ask whether or not you’re ready to be a foster parent: 

Do you have enough room in your home to temporarily house a child?  You must be able to provide the child with his or her own bed. A child in care may share a bedroom with your child or another child in care. However, the child may not share a bedroom with any individual over age 18. Also, adults cannot move out of their bedroom and sleep on the couch to make room for the child.

Can your home pass a safety inspection?   It is important that children live in a safe and clean environment. During the homestudy process, a representative of the local health department will conduct a safety and fire inspection of your house or apartment. Your home must be free of danger and garbage. You must have working smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher. You must pass this inspection to be eligible to be a foster parent.

Are you physically and emotionally capable of caring for children?  Being a foster parent can be demanding. You must be physically healthy and emotionally healthy to care for foster children. You will be interviewed by the counselor regarding your own childhood experiences and your family relations.

Do you have a history or record of abuse or neglect?  When we receive your application, we will review our records. If you have been investigated by the department in the past, you may not be eligible to become a foster parent. This includes substantiated cases of abuse and neglect or if your own child had to be placed in foster care.

Do you have an adequate income to meet your own family’s current needs? While you don’t have to be rich to be a foster parent, you must have enough income to meet your own family’s needs. During the homestudy, you will be asked to provide proof of income.

Have you been in your current relationship for more than 12 months? Foster parents can be single, married, divorced or separated. However, you must have been in your current marital status for at least 12 months to ensure stability in your relationship.

Has an adult in your home ever been convicted of a crime?  If you or any adult residing in your home has been convicted of certain criminal offenses, you cannot be a foster parent. Each adult member of your household will be fingerprinted, and a juvenile records check will be done on each child in your home 12 years of age and older.

Are you ready to begin the homestudy process?  You are ready to begin if your life and home are stable. "Stable" means that you are not about to move and are not having financial, marital or emotional difficulties. If you rent, you will need your landlord’s approval. Also, your home must be in good repair. Overall, you must have given serious thought to the decision to become a foster parent.

Orientation Schedule for Foster/Shelter and Adoptive Parents Jan - June 2012