What Is Foster Care?
Foster care is designed to be a temporary way to care for children who must leave their parental home due to neglect or abuse. The ultimate goal is to reunite children with their parents if possible, or place them into permanent adoptive homes.
According to Children’s Defense, there are about 424,000 children in the foster care system in the US today at an average age of 6 1/2. Many of these children are victims of abuse or neglect. Children of color are nearly twice as likely to enter the child welfare system than White children.
When children enter foster care, they can be placed with a family member. Currently about one-third of these children live with relatives other than their parents. More than 10% are placed in group home or child care institutions due to real or perceived mental health issues.
Each year more than 20,000 children 18 to 21 age out of foster care. Yet many lack the skills to support themselves and are more likely to experience unemployment or homelessness. Many become incarcerated. The pandemic has caused additional stress on the child welfare system, especially among older children that age out of the system.
Children in the foster care system wait an average of three-to-four years to be adopted. Ten percent will spend over five years in foster care.
Who Can Be A Foster Parent?
Here in Florida, anyone 21 years or older can be a foster parent. The process of becoming a foster parent includes a complete background check, a home study inspection, and financial documents to assure the prospective parent is financially stable. Parents also complete a 21-hour training course before receiving final approval from the state Department of Children and Families.
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a foster parent, visit our Foster Parenting page or call us at (904) 278=5644.