Southwest Florida needs more foster parents. In Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry, and Glades Counties, there are more than 500 children and young adults in foster care. But, there are just 175 foster families. Young people enter the foster system when the state determines they’ve been abused, neglected, or abandoned— and have no other family or friends to take them in. Foster care is meant to be temporary… the goal is to either reunite a child with family or find adoptive parents. The Children’s Network of Southwest Florida administers foster care in this region. Spokeswoman Debbie Webb says—on average—a child spends two years in foster care.
“It’s long. But, it’s shorter than it used to be. Historically, you hear about children growing up in foster care—and they’re in foster care their whole life. That is, hopefully, a part of the past. That’s what our goal is—to keep children in care as short as possible.”
Some foster parents adopt their foster children. But that’s by no means a requirement. Webb says a variety of people can become foster parents… single people, married couples in which both people work, those who already have children, and folks in their 50’s, 60’s, and beyond. Becoming a foster parent requires an orientation, a background check, home inspection, and free 10-week evening course. Anyone interested can call 1-800-89-FAMILY.
Friday, 07 October 2005 01:00