If you know you have extra love and care to give, and you really want to make a meaningful difference in the world, it can be hard to figure out exactly how to do that. There is a shortage of foster parents in central Florida, and many children who need the care you could provide. This makes becoming a foster parent life-changing for both yourself and any children you may support in the years to come.

As long as you are at least 21 years of age and have some extra space in your home, you might qualify to become a licensed foster parent in the state of Florida. Many people think foster parents must be wealthy, young, married couples who own their own home, but in fact, none of these things are required. Even if you are a renter, your home may work perfectly as long as you have enough room for any potential foster children to have their own space. 

If you meet these base requirements and have the compassion to take on foster care, there are a few steps that you can take to become licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families. This process will have no cost to you when done through community-based agencies, and takes about six to eight months to complete. The first action to take is to attend an orientation that fits your schedule. This will help you understand how foster care works and what it will be like to have a foster child. Orientation provides the opportunity to become more educated and aware through both technical information and other people’s experiences.

After orientation, you will complete a total of 20 to 30 hours of training so you can be as prepared as possible for your future as a foster parent. Next, you will be required to pass a criminal and child abuse background check. Usually a quick process, this is done to help ensure that children are placed into safe foster homes. Not only is safety a concern, but the stability and environment of a home must also be assessed. This is done through the final two steps: a home study and home inspection. These will make sure that you have enough bedrooms and a healthy, stable setting to raise a foster child in. 

If you are ready to start following your calling as a care provider, Kids Central Inc. and Families First of Florida both help Brooksville area residents become licensed. These are both community-based organizations, and they will happily help you find an orientation to attend and provide your training. Each offers services to help you go through the entire licensing process, as well as aftercare to support you and your foster child throughout your journey. If you are ready to start changing the lives of children in need, you will not have to do it alone. These organizations can help you each step of the way.