Choosing to become a foster parent in Pensacola, Florida, is a decision that will enrich the lives of your family members and the lives of the children you care for as a foster parent. In the Florida panhandle, nearly 500 children are in need of a foster family, according to the FamiliesFirst Network website. These children came to foster care through circumstances beyond their control, including abuse, neglect or abandonment. Each of these children needs a loving, nurturing and caring home until the state can reunite them with the biological family or place them for adoption. Becoming a foster parent in Pensacola requires several steps before certification.
Evaluate whether you and your family meet the eligibility requirements for becoming a foster family in Pensacola. Eligible foster parents are individuals who are at least 21, married or single, financially stable, live in a stable home environment, have sufficient room for another child in the home and can pass background, physical and emotional evaluations.
Make a call to the FamiliesFirst Network, 850-453-7777. This is the agency that contracts with the state of Florida Department of Children and Families for foster care in Pensacola. During the initial call, you will have any questions about the process answered and schedule an orientation at the community center offices.
Attend the foster parent orientation, at which you will learn about the benefits of foster care and the reunification policy with biological families, receive the necessary paperwork for certification, ask any questions you might have about the process and meet other families interested in becoming foster parents.
Complete all of the paperwork you need to begin the process of becoming a foster parent. This paperwork includes a background check and fingerprint card for each adult member of the household, a family survey, personal information, a list of references and medical clearance from your doctor for each family member.
Schedule a home inspection by the health department and fire department to determine whether the proper standards of safety and cleanliness are present within your home.
Attend a 21-hour precertification course to learn about the challenges, rules and regulations surrounding foster care. If you are married, both you and your spouse must attend all of the training meetings.
Meet with your precertification instructor at least two times in your home during the training for a home study meeting. All members of your household must attend these meetings to help the instructor learn about your family dynamics, determine your readiness for a foster child and make recommendations on the type of foster child that is the best fit for your family.