Foster parents make an immeasurable impact on the life of a child who has, through no fault of his own, landed in circumstances that require the care of an adult other than his biological parents. In Florida, there are more than 7,000 children in the foster care system that rely on loving, responsible adults like yourself to care for and mentor them while the child’s parents are unable to care for the child, according to Fostering Florida’s Future. To ensure that foster children in Florida are safe, you must take several steps before obtaining your foster care license.
Determine you eligibility to become a foster parent in Florida. Florida requires foster parents to be at least 21, financially able to provide for current family members, willing to work with the biological family to reunite the child, able to pass a home inspection, free of criminal changes and abuse charges, and have the physical space in your home to accommodate an additional child. Foster parents do not need to be married or have other children.
Contact your local Florida Department of Children and Families office to obtain the name of the foster parent community partner in your county. You will work with both the Department of Children and Families and the community partner agency throughout the licensing process.
Schedule a time for you and any adult in your household to obtain a foster parent orientation in your area. The orientation will help you learn about the process, hurdles, laws and regulations in foster care as well as provide a forum for you to ask any questions you have about the process.
Obtain an application packet at orientation. This packet should include the foster parent application, information on the background and child abuse registry check, home inspection checklist and home study information.
Complete the application, background and child abuse forms and return them to your agency. Schedule the home inspection.
Prepare your home for the home inspection by making sure the home is clean, all chemicals and medicines are out of a child’s reach, pools are gated, child gates are in use, you have smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher and that your home is free of any other hazards.
Meet with an agency representative to complete your home study. The home study evaluates your readiness for taking in a foster child and assesses your family’s ability and willingness to support you in the process.
Attend a foster parent-training course. This course is between 20 and 30 hours and will go over everything you need learn and prepare for as a foster parent.
The foster parent process might take up to eight months to complete, according to AdoptUSKids.