There is a child in your community waiting for someone like you. The number of children in need of foster care is staggering and foster parents are in short supply. Each year, there are 18,000 to 20,000 children in Florida who can’t live at home. Children who don’t have relatives to care for them are placed with a foster family who can provide them with the love and support they need.
Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health helps make those family connections for local children in the foster care system, in partnership with the Department of Children and Families and Community Based Care of Central Florida. We asked Jessica DeVroey, a Devereux foster parent licensing supervisor, and Betty Schroeder, a veteran foster parent for 50 years, to share their knowledge.
Is Being a Foster Parent Right for Me?
Maybe you want to expand your family or help children in need by giving them a safe place to stay. Schroeder and her late husband Keith always dreamed of having a large family. Over the years their dreams came true, and they were blessed with five biological children. By the time their last child reached the age of 2, the couple was ready for another baby. At that time, they found the need in the community for foster parents was greater than their desire to have more biological children, so they decided to look into becoming foster parents.
“I pray many others will continue to care for these wonderful children who ask only for your love and patience,” Schroeder says.
You don’t need to be married, own a home or have tons of money – you just need to be willing to provide a safe and loving home to a child in need. DeVroey explains that the best way to learn more and prepare to welcome a foster child is to attend a local information session or pre-service foster parent class. These wonderful resources will educate you on what to expect.
How to Become a Foster Parent
This is the opportunity of a lifetime to serve your community by helping our most vulnerable children. Once you make the decision to become a foster parent, talk to a representative from Devereux Florida or attend a local information session.
DeVroey says a short evaluation will determine if prospective foster parents meet the state’s minimum requirements. Once eligibility is verified, an eight-week training class, which is held one night per week, is required as well as a home study. From start to finish, the process to become a licensed foster parent is usually about 90 days.
“Another good way to prepare is to network with others in class so you have friends in the community to lean on and ask questions during your foster parent journey,” DeVroey says. “Foster parents succeed the best when they have a lot of support in their circles.”
For more information or for other ways to help, visit www.devereuxFL.org or email FLFosterCare@devereux.org.