A new website, www.fosteringflorida.com, launched to highlight stories of successful foster parents and children in foster care or who have aged out of foster care. This website will give information to anyone in Florida who is interested in fostering a child. A video page shows foster parents talking in their own words about how meaningful being a foster parent is to them.
Foster parents change lives of children all over this state every single day. Currently, there are more than 8,000 children in foster care in Florida. They are removed from their homes through no fault of their own, but because they have been abused and neglected and are not able to safely remain with their families.
"Children in foster care just want to be like every other kid," said Guardian ad Litem Director Alan Abramowitz. "This initiative will help foster parents be parents and make reasonable decisions regarding the children we are entrusting to their care."
Our goal is to recruit 1,200 new foster parents this year. Recruitment efforts will be centered at the 18 community-based care agencies that DCF contracts with throughout the state for prevention, foster care and adoption services. Using the model of the Quality Parenting Initiative, foster parents will know that they are our partners in deciding what is in the best interest of the children in their care. Improved support of foster parents at every agency and every level will increase retention and recruitment.
"Here in our area, we have found many ways to give an extra hand to foster parents, through support groups, specialized training and more," said Mark Jones, CEO of Community Partnership for Children, which covers Flagler, Volusia and Putnam counties. "We know that having quality, engaged foster parents leads to better outcomes for children in foster care."
All children in foster care should have the same expectations at educational success as other children. As part of this effort, DCF began tracking the school attendance and graduation rates of these children on a monthly basis to identify ways to increase school participation and ensure that children in foster care have the opportunity to graduate high school and move on to future studies. A new report card will begin looking at an array of measures for each child so that our community-based care partners can work with them on an individual basis and provide the tools that are needed to help them succeed.
Fore more information, please go to www.fosteringflorida.com. Also, check out our blog from foster parent and ESPN reporter Michael Wallace and his wife LaShaun at http://blog.myflfamilies.com.