Children in care have experienced abuse, neglect and/or abandonment and need a place to call home for a single night, a few months or even forever. Foster care is providing a safe place for a child to sleep, eat and receive shelter. It’s also giving care emotionally, physically, mentally and socially- so that a child can heal from trauma and find freedom to thrive.
The state of Florida has several designated levels of care providers.
- Level I: Child-Specific Foster Home. This licensure is designated for relatives and non relatives who have an existing relationship with the child who they will be caring for.
- Level II: Non-Child Specific Foster Home. This type is available to individuals in the community interested in fostering.
- Level III: Safe Foster Home For Victims of Human Trafficking. This licensure is designed for those interested in providing a safe and stable environment for victims of human trafficking.
- Level IV: Therapeutic Foster Home. These are licensed foster homes who received specialized training to care for a wide variety of children who may have significant emotional, behavioral or social needs.
- Level V: Medical Foster Home. These caregivers receive specialized training to provide care for children with chronic medical conditions or medically-complex conditions.
The basic steps to become licensed as a foster home are:
- Orientation. Normally licensing agencies hold some kind of introductory meeting where they share the realities of foster care and the ins and outs of licensing.
- PRIDE training. [Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education] How this mandated training is scheduled varies from agency to agency but it is generally held once or twice a week for 5-9 weeks for a total of approximately 30 hours of training.
- Background checks. Basically everyone living in a home where a foster child will reside must be checked out in some form or fashion, through finger printing, background screenings and/or interviews.
- Paperwork. You’ll be asked to verify income, give your reasons for wanting to foster, explain your discipline methods and more.
- Home studies. A licensing representative will visit your home to make sure it meets the basic safety requirements.
The state is entrusting you with a vulnerable child and each step in the process is there to minimize any additional risk to the child by fully vetting and preparing foster parents. The process generally takes 2-3 months to complete.
A condensed version of this process is used for relative/non relative caregivers as well. If you are hoping to serve as a Level III, IV or V foster home there may be additional training required for your license.
The best way to begin or to find out further details is by contacting the licensing agency in your area. The state maintains a list of licensing agencies which can be found here.
As you begin the process we are here to support you, answer questions and help! Click here for resources that already exist in your own area: