Many people feel they are meant to serve children in need by giving them loving, compassionate care. However, a lot of these people do not know how they can best follow this calling. There are thousands of children in Florida alone who need supportive and stable parent figures, and becoming a foster parent allows you to help them in a life-changing way. If you are willing and able to create a positive and healthy environment for a child, there are requirements, but there are also resources right in Lake County to help get you started. 

To become a foster parent, you must be licensed according to the requirements of the Florida Department of Children and Families. Although it is a common belief that foster parents must be married, wealthy, young, or own their own house, these are not requirements. If you are interested in learning more about what foster care takes and possibly becoming licensed, the best first step to take is attending an orientation. This is one of the Department of Children and Families’ requirements, but it also helps prospective parents learn more about the program. Even for people just considering foster parenting, orientation can answer a lot of questions and provide real experiences from others. Plus, once orientation is completed, you are already one step closer to becoming a foster parent. 

The next step is to get even more education and experience by completing the mandatory 20 to 30 hours of training. This will make new foster parents more comfortable and better prepared. In order to become licensed, future foster parents also have to pass a background test, which screens for criminal activity and any history of child abuse.

Once you have been determined to be safe for foster children, the Department of Children and Families requires that your home is proven safe as well. This is done through both a home study and home inspection, which verify that you can provide a stable and loving environment for any foster children who may move in. After you have successfully completed all these steps, you are ready to become a licensed foster parent! Usually, the entire process only takes from six to eight months, which is much less time than many people expect. Not only is it timely, but the process of becoming a foster parent is also cost-free when done through a community-based agency. 

For support at any stage during the process of becoming a foster parent or caring for a foster child, there are accessible resources in the Clermont area. Kids Central Inc. is one of the organizations serving Lake County regarding the welfare of children. A community-based agency, Kids Central helps neglected children and offers events and information to potential foster parents. Another great option is to contact Families First of Florida. They will guide you through the entire journey of foster parenthood, starting by helping you find your first orientation session. Getting involved with Families First or Kids Central Inc. is an excellent way to begin the process of becoming a licensed foster parent and making major differences in the lives of children who need you.