Imagine a child’s fear after being taken away from parents or whatever family setting the child is accustomed to. Several factors could contribute, including neglect, parents being arrested, an unexpected death of a parent or a custodial adult or the sudden inability to care for the child(ren) for whatever reason.
In the area serviced by Heartland for Children, there are approximately 987 children in out-of-home care. Nearly 400 of these children are placed in either a foster or group home. Of the 126 children in group care, 71 percent of these are teens. Those are the figures quoted on Heartland for Children’s website.
These children all deserve a chance to live in a traditional family setting and live as normal of a childhood as they possibly can. They should be able to attend school activities, play sports, make plans to attend college or find a career of their choice. These children need a chance to learn how to succeed and not be part of “the system.”
Foster parents unlock a world of possibilities for these children. In essence, foster parents open their home and allow the children to go to school and live as close a normal life as possible. This in turn helps the children heal and recover from the trauma of being ripped from the only home life they knew.
Foster parents are the ones who voluntarily take on the role of providing support, safety and love to children who come from these unstable, unloving and often abusive homes. In some cases, they also serve as a role model for biological parents who want to work toward a reunion with their children.
Governor Ron DeSantis has proclaimed the second week of February as Florida Foster Family Appreciation Week, to be observed Feb. 11-15.
Florida’s First Lady, Casey DeSantis, wholeheartedly supports the observation. She said, “Our state is blessed for the contribution of foster parents and the families they create. Whether a foster family is together for a short period of time or longer, the impact of the relationship is forever. As a mother, I am truly grateful for those who create a loving and nurturing environment for children and encourage all Floridians to find a way to help build and rebuild families in their own communities.”
In Florida there are approximately 5,378 foster families currently licensed through the state to care for the more than 7,200 children. This proclamation is a tribute to those families. Please, during this week, set aside some time to recognize their protection of and the hope offered to the state’s most vulnerable children.
Setting aside one week to give special recognition to foster parenting is the least that can be done to say thank you for stepping up for our children.
For details on qualifications and training to become a foster parent, contact Heartland for Children at 863-519-8900 or submit an email to https://heartlandforchildren. org/