Foster Parent’s Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who are the children?
Children enter foster care because they cannot remain safely at home. Some circumstances that make it difficult for biological families to meet the needs of their children may include substance abuse, mental illness and domestic violence. The children range in age, and most come as part of a sibling group.
Some children in foster care are waiting to be adopted. They need families who will give them a home lasting into adulthood.
Q: Who are the foster families?
Foster families are single, dual-parent and same-sex couples. They are employed, retired, currently parenting, empty-nesters and those who have never parented before.
Q. What do foster families do?
- Provide a loving commitment to the child
- Provide daily care, guidance, structure, acceptance and appropriate discipline
- Work with all partners, including birth parents and relatives, in order to promote permanence for the child and maintain connections
- 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 well being
- Provide transportation to and from school, appointments, and extra curricular activities
- Share memories with the family of origin about a child's first tooth, first steps, first day of school, first date, etc.
With an investment of time, energy, love and guidance, foster families can make a difference in the lives of children and families in need.
Q. How do I become a foster parent?
Caring for children who have been abused or neglected and being a role model for biological parents working to reunify with their children is a significant responsibility. The key qualification is being able to meet the physical, emotional and developmental needs of a child.
- Must be at least 21 years of age
- Be able to care for yourself/family financially without the child's board rate
- Have the ability to work as a member of a team
- Complete a free specialized training through one of Communities Connected for Kids’ child-placing agencies.
- Pass a criminal/child abuse background check for all household member 18 years and older
- Have a home free of fire and safety hazards
- Participate in a home study to review your readiness for fostering
- Be flexible, patient and understanding and have a sense of humor!
The above information is just a summary - other requirements
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 provide assistance with caring for children who have experienced trauma
- Support from your child placing agency
- Foster Parent Associations in each county, that provide trainings and opportunities for getting to know other foster families
- Foster Parent Mentors, who are experienced foster/adoptive parents trained to provide support and guidance to foster families
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 parent right now? You can:
- Volunteer to be a Guardian Ad Litem - visit the GALP website for more information
- Donate school supplies
- Participate in one of our holiday gift programs
- Sponsor a child for camp
Q. Do I need to be married to 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 parent?
Families considering foster care should be financially stable, with a balanced budget, prior to beginning their journey. Foster families do receive a monthly board rate (payment) to help offset the cost of meeting a child’s basic needs. Families are also eligible for reduced daycare rates, and a child’s medical care is covered by Medicaid.
Q. How long will children stay in my home?
The length of a child’s stay in your home may range from a few days, months, a year, or even longer. However, the average stay for a child in foster care is less than a year.
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.