Becoming a licensed foster parent is a great way to channel the extra love and compassion in your heart. If you open your heart and home to a foster child or foster children, it will improve their lives by giving them a stable environment they may have never known. It will also improve your own life by making it even more fulfilling, since you will know you are making a difference improving the world, starting with Bushnell. While becoming a licensed foster parent might sound intimidating, the process actually tends to take only six to eight months and has fewer requirements than you might expect.

The Florida Department of Children and Families does not require foster parents to be young, wealthy, married, or homeowners. As long as you are at least 21 years old, have enough room in your home for a child, and are willing to uplift and support them, you may be able to be a foster parent in Florida. 

To begin the process, the first step is to attend an orientation. Not only is this the first requirement stated by the Florida Department of Children and Families, but it is a great way to learn more about foster care. It provides education about what to expect as well as true stories from the experiences others have had. Completing orientation can make it easier to decide if fostering is the right path for you. There are multiple resources that are accessible to the Sumter County area that can help you find an orientation time that works for you. After you have finished orientation, the next step is to complete at least 20 to 30 hours of foster parent training.

Depending on the organization you work with or the type of foster parent you want to be, there can be several types of training offered so you can choose the one that suits you best. Another requirement to become a foster parent is to pass a background check, which will screen for criminal or child abuse history. Once that has been cleared, the Department of Children and Families requires both a home inspection and home study. These not only make sure that you have enough space for a foster child to live in, but also that your home and lifestyle are healthy and stable for a child. 

After all of these steps have been completed, you are ready to become a licensed foster parent and be matched with a child to support. This is a great way to make a difference in the lives of young people and make your own life feel more meaningful. There are several great organizations that are available as resources to you in the Sumter County area. One of the agencies recommended by the Florida Department of Children and Families is Kids Central Inc., which works to train and support foster parents throughout the entire process of foster care.

Families First of Florida is another similar resource, and either one can get you set up on your path to changing lives. They will help you find an orientation that fits with your schedule, get you trained, and prepare you for the foster care experience. As soon as you reach out to one of these organizations, you can begin your fulfilling journey as a loving and supportive foster parent.