How to Become a Foster Parent in Tampa, Florida

Close to 1,000 children in the Tampa area live in foster care, according to Hillsborough Kids, Inc. Hillsborough county, Florida, is always looking for new foster parents to help care for its many children in need of a home. Choosing to foster a child is hard work but offers the reward of making a difference in a child's life. For families looking to adopt, fostering a child in Florida's foster care system paves the way for adopting the child later on.

Meet all prerequisite requirements. Basic requirements for foster families in Tampa include being in good overall health, being over the age of 21, having adequate space for sleeping, vaccinating all pets regularly and passing criminal background checks. Families choosing to foster children must also agree to a nonphysical discipline plan, a home heath inspection and 30 hours of pre-service training and 12 training hours annually.

Contact the local foster care agency. While Florida's Department of Children and Families oversees the foster care program, local agencies, such as Hillsborough Kids, Inc., in the Tampa area provide foster care services to foster parents and children. Foster parents are encouraged to call Hillsborough Kids, Inc. at 813-643-5437 to ask any foster care questions, learn basic foster care information and schedule an orientation meeting.

Attend orientation and pre-service training. Foster parent orientations are held several times throughout each month in the Tampa area and provide potential foster parents with more in-depth information about foster parent requirements. Pre-service training is a 30 hour course for new foster parents which provides a opportunity for them to learn skills for raising foster children, discuss foster care challenges and learn about the state and local foster care rules.

Complete a home study. Required as part of the pre-service training, a home study is an extensive interview process that takes around two months to complete, according to Hillsborough Kids, Inc. The home study helps ensure that families are ready to become foster parents and that the home meets all foster care licensing requirements.

Obtain a license to provide foster care. After meeting all of the requirements, a request for a foster care license is sent to the state and a foster care license is issued. The license is good for one year and allows Tampa families to begin the process of being matched with a foster child. The license can be renewed annually, after the completion of 12 in-service training hours.