Have you decided to become a foster parent in the state of Florida, but aren’t sure how to get started? Becoming a foster parent can be a lengthy, confusing and overwhelming process. Fortunately, my husband and I have been through it and are glad to share our experience!
- Visit www.myflorida.com to learn about the requirements to become a foster parent. The process is lengthy, so it’s best to know if you qualify before starting. Fortunately, as long as you do not have certain crimes on your record and can prove you are able to financially care for a child, you will likely qualify to be a foster parent. I made some stupid mistakes (shoplifting and failure to appear in court) when I was 19 and 20. I had to collect a bit of extra documentation and write an explanation. It was embarrassing, but not a problem.
- While you’re on the website, read the goal of foster care in Florida. It is to reunite children with their biological families. Not everyone is able to support this goal. If you’re looking for a child that will stay in your home forever, consider pursuing straight adoption instead. My husband and I didn’t feel fostering was right for us, so we got licensed to adopt children who were already legally free for adoption.
- Contact your local foster care organization to sign up for MAPP classes. You can find this information on www.myflorida.com, as well. MAPP stands for “Model Approaches to Partnership in Parenting.” Our classes were held from 9 A.M. to 4 P.M. on six consecutive Saturdays. The classes will prepare you to become foster parents.
- Once you complete your courses, a home study will be conducted. A case worker will interview you, collect documentation about you and tour your home. They will write a report (your home study) to submit to the state. Our case worker came to our house three times for interviews. She even checked the temperature of our refrigerator!
- If the state approves your home study, you will become licensed to either foster or adopt. Ours took about a month to be approved.
- Then you simply wait for a case worker to call you with your first placement if your fostering or start looking for a match if you’re adopting. We started emailing case workers about children who were available for adoption the same day our home study was approved.
The length of time all of this takes varies greatly depending on the workload of case workers in your area. It could take as little as two months or over a year. It took around three months for us to be licensed, including the time it took to complete the MAPP classes. It took a year from start to finish to get our daughter home.