Children and teens who are in foster care are just like other kids. They go to school, they have friends and participate in extracurricular activities, they play sports or read books, and they live right here in our community. The difference is that they’ve experienced a negative family situation, trauma, abuse, or neglect, which makes living at home unsafe—at least for the time being. While we work with parents to resolve issues and overcome challenges, with the goal of reuniting them with their kids, the children need a safe, stable, and temporary place to live.


What children need in a foster parent

1. Understand their needs
When you choose to foster a child, you should be prepared to deal with trauma, sensitivities and developmental needs. Understanding, compassion and patience are core virtues that are necessary when becoming a child’s caregiver. 

2. Protect and nurture
Be a caregiver, a mentor, an understanding ear and a supportive role model. Be involved in their life and put forth the same unconditional effort you would if he or she were your biological child. 

3. Support family relationships
As a foster parent, you’ll not only care for the child in your home, but you’ll encourage the child to maintain a positive relationship with his or her parents, in hopes that the family will be reunified once the case plan goals have been met. 

4. Promote lifetime relationships
As a role model, and one who will leave a lasting impression, you’ll connect children to safe, nurturing relationships such as mentors, teachers, coaches, friends and extended family. 

5. Be a part of a professional team
When you become a foster parent, you join a network of families and professionals who provide support, encouragement and advice. You’ll also connect and network with the FSS team, including a licensing counselor, case manager, therapists and more. 

Learn more about fostering a child

Tell us a little bit about yourself and we’ll give you the insight and support you need to become a foster parent.

If you’re a relative to a child who has been placed with you by DCF, please register to become a licensed relative caregiver.

To learn more about becoming a foster parent, you can join a virtual information session. Please select a link below, which will connect you to join via Zoom.

Zoom Meeting Times and Dates (sessions open 15 minutes prior to start time)

Monday, May 16, 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.: Evening informational session

Monday, June 6, Noon – 1 p.m.: Lunch and Learn informational session

Monday, June 20, 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.: Evening informational session

You may also call 727-456-0600, ext. 2085 or email diane.johnson@fsssuncoast.org.

  • 9 steps to becoming a foster parent. Learn More

    1. Contact us to get all the information you need to know and we’ll walk with you through the process
    2. Attend one of our Informational Sessions
    3. Submit a preservice application
    4. Complete a background screening
    5. Complete PRIDE training (Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education), which is a state requirement to become a licensed foster parent
    6. Meet your Licensing Specialist who will provide support and guidance through the process
    7. Participate in a home study
    8. Receive foster home approval from the Department of Children and Families
    9. We’ll contact you when a child comes into care and needs a supportive home.

     

    Becoming a foster parent can make a lifetime of difference to families around you. Whether you’ve made the decision to foster or would like to learn more, complete the foster inquiry form or call Diane Johnson at 727-456-0600, ext. 2085.

Why foster through Family Support Services?

Our ultimate goal is to quickly get our local children to permanency while keeping them connected to family roots when possible. Whether that means safely reunited with their family or matched with a loving adoptive home, during their transition, we ensure that their temporary placement is positive, supportive and impactful.
  • We give every foster family the personalized attention they need and deserve.
  • We help our foster parents determine the characteristics of kids that will fit best in their homes.
  • We provide ongoing, child-specific training.
  • We offer support, guidance and resources whenever you need us.

Kinship Caregiver Program

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the requirements to become a foster parent?

    You must:

    • Be at least 21 years old
    • Be a U.S. citizen
    • Pass a background screening
    • Complete an online application
    • Complete a home study and in-person interview
    • Have a valid Florida driver’s license, a vehicle in working condition and current auto insurance

    Qualified adults can be licensed to foster, regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, age, gender, home ownership or income level.

  • How long does it take to get licensed to be a foster parent?

    Generally, 10-14 weeks. The process includes an in-person interview, home visit, training and completed home study.

  • Are there different types of foster care?

    • Level I: Child specific foster home for relatives and non-relative caregivers
    • Level II Traditional: General foster home (Level II foster parents may also opt to provide short-term respite care)
    • Level III Safe Harbor: Specialized training required to work with sexually exploited youth; additional training in human trafficking required
    • Level IV Therapeutic: Specific training required to care for kids with mental, emotional or behavioral needs
    • Level V Medical: A medical background and the ability to provide specialized care for children with medically-complex conditions; additional training required

    • Most foster parents work full-time. Vouchers for day care are provided for foster children 8 and younger.

  • Are there any restrictions to having pets while fostering?

    You may have pets, however, Rottweilers, pit bulls and certain species of exotic pets may prevent you from meeting licensing requirements.

  • Can I choose the types of children who I foster?

    We work with you to match children based on preferences, gender, age, geographic locations and lifestyle. Each foster child’s case is different. While the primary goal is to reunify the child with their biological family, in cases where children cannot be reunified with their parents, the focus shifts to finding adoptive families.
    Visit the heart gallery to see children currently in need of a forever family.

  • Is financial assistance available to help pay for a child’s care?

    Yes, a monthly stipend helps reimburse associated costs for housing, transportation, clothing and food. The daily rate is set by the state and is based on the child’s age and individual needs.

    • Medicaid and free lunch benefits are provided.
    • Children aged 8 and younger qualify for a voucher to cover the expense of child care.
    • Free community services and events are available to our foster parents and children.

  • Are additional training and resources available?

    Yes, you’ll receive continuous support from FSS, the case manager, guardian ad litem, counseling services, crisis support, and others in the community. Respite care is available.

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