Foster Parent’s Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who are the children?
Children enter foster care because they cannot remain in their homes and be safe. The children have unique strengths and needs. Some are experiencing a variety of social, emotional and behavioral or physical difficulties because of abuse and/or neglect. The children range in age from birth to 18 years old.
Most children are in out-of-home care temporarily. They need nurturing family homes for the duration of their stay in care.
Some children in out-of-home care are waiting for adoption and are in foster homes, group homes and treatment facilities. They need families who will give them a home lasting into adulthood.
Q: Who are foster families?
Foster families are changing out-of-home care by preserving a sense of connection and permanency in the life of every child, even during the most challenging times. This is done by promoting reunification with the natural family; but if this cannot be achieved, then by parenting the child through the adoption process.
Foster families are special people who recognize the special needs of children living in a troubled family.
With an investment of time, energy, love and guidance, foster families can make a difference in the lives of the children and families in need.
Individuals or couples can be licensed as foster parents. Foster families receive financial reimbursement to meet the basic needs of the children. Children in the legal custody of the department may also be placed with relatives who can provide full-time care (relative care), protection and nurturing. Relatives who become licensed foster families may access the same services for children as non-relative foster families.
Q. What do foster families do?
- Provide a loving commitment to the child
- Provide daily care, guidance and acceptance
- Work with all applicable parties, including biological parents, towards permanence for the child
- Model a healthy family lifestyle
- Participate fully in the child's educational, medical, dental and psychological needs
- Learn about and be respectful of the child's religion, culture and ethnicity, and any special circumstances affecting the child's care
- Provide transportation to and from school, appointments, and extra curricular activities
- Promote and provide structure and appropriate and reasonable discipline
- Experience a child’s first tooth, first steps, first day of school, first date, driving
- Share information about the child’s progress and needs with all applicable parties
- Make a difference in the life of a child
Q. What is required to become a foster family?
- Complete application with a foster family licensing specialist
- Complete specialized training through one of Communities Connected for Kids’ child-placing agencies.
- Demonstrate financial and emotional stability, responsibility and a willingness to work closely with the agency
- Undergo criminal background check, fingerprinting and check of the Central Registries of Abuse and Neglect for all household members 18 years and older
- Have a satisfactory home environmental inspection
- Provide three references from those who have known the prospective foster parent for at least three years
- Submit current medical reports for all family members in the home
- Agree to not use corporal punishment
- Agree to keep all information shared confidential
This is just a summary other requirements can be explained to you by a Recruitment & Retention Specialist who works with Communities Connected for Kids.
Q. What supports are there for foster families?
- Monthly board payments to help offset the cost of caring for the child
- Clothing allowance for the child
- Monthly visits from a Dependency Case Manager
- Training to meet licensing requirements
- Other benefits may be available
Q. What are the rewards of being a foster family?
- Be a positive influence in the life of a child
- Make a difference in families and communities
- Share in the growth of a child
- Help a child build a foundation on which to be successful in the community
Q. What if I cannot be a foster or adoptive parent right now? You can:
- Volunteer to be a Guardian Ad Litem
- Volunteer to tutor a child
- Donate school supplies
- Participate in one of our holiday gift programs
- Sponsor a child for camp
- Offer discounts to foster families if you own your own business
Q. Do I need to be married to adopt or become a foster parent?
No, you may be single or living with a partner or paramour.
Q. Is there financial help if I become a foster or adoptive parent?
Foster families receive a monthly board rate, and reduced daycare rates. Medical care is covered by Medicaid. Adoptive parents receive a monthly Maintenance Adoption Subsidy to assist with the additional costs of adding a child to the family.
Q. How long does the adoption process take?
The timeframe varies from case to case, but the background checks, PIP training and a home study can usually be completed in less than nine months.
Q. How much does it cost to adopt?
When you adopt a child from the State of Florida, you will not be charged an adoption fee or fees related to pre-adoptive training, home studies or placement. There may be expenses related to attorney fees and court costs, but these are usually reimbursed by the state. Other one-time expenses that may be reimbursed are birth certificate fees and travel expenses for visiting the child.
Q. Is post-adoption support provided?
Yes, Communities Connected for Kids has support and services for adoptive families available from our full array of service providers, including immediate in-home crisis intervention services, counseling and behavior analysis. Communities Connected for Kids also invites all adoptive families and others interested in adoption to join the Florida Foster and Adoptive Parent Association, which offers additional resources to caregivers.
Q. How long will children stay in my home?
Children may remain in your home for a few days, months, a year, or even longer.
Q. Do you have a history or record of abuse or neglect?
If you have been investigated by the department in the past, you may not be eligible to become a foster family. This includes substantiated cases of abuse and neglect or if your own child had to be placed in out-of-home care. When we receive your application, we will review our records.
Q. 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 family. 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. FS 390138 (2) provides more information and can be accessed at http://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2012/39.0138.
Q. 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.