Lakeview Center 

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Region in Need of Foster Parents

WELCOME!

Who Are We?

Families First Network of Lakeview Center (FFN) is the community-based care agency contracted by the Department of Children and Families, Circuit 1 to provide foster care and adoption related services for Escambia, Sata Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton Counties.

How Do Children Come Into Care?

  • An allegation of abuse, neglect or abandonment is made by calling the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE
  • If the allegation is accepted by the Hotline, a Child Protective Investigator is contacted
  • Depending on the urgency of the allegation, the CPI investigates the situation either immediately or within 24 hours
  • When a child(ren) cannot safely remain at home, the CPI looks for a biological relative (relative caregiver) or family friend (non-relative caregiver) willing to care for the child(ren)
  • If a suitable relative or non-relative is not located, then the child is placed in a licensed foster home
  • Parents are given a case plan, usually with a permanency goal of reunification. If they are unable to provide a safe home for their child, the court can order a permanency goal of adoption.
  • Once parental rights have been terminated (typically takes 1+ year) the children are available for adoption and if the foster family, relative, or non-relative the child is placed with does not want to adopt or is determined to not be the best placement for the child, then an adoptive family is sought.

Who Are Our Children?

All children available for adoption through FamiliesFirst Network are by federal and state law definition, special needs, and eligible for the Adoption Assistance Program (AAP).*

Special Needs criteria include:

  • a. Eight years of age or older
  • b. African American or racially mixed parentage
  • c. Member of a sibling group being placed for adoption as a unit
  • d. Mentally handicapped.
  • e. Physically handicapped.
  • f. Emotionally handicapped.
  • g. Significant emotional ties with his foster parents or relative caregiver.

Facts:

  • At any given time, there are as many as 50 children available for adoption in our area.
  • Most of our waiting children are teenagers or members of sibling groups who want to stay together.
  • Many of our children have complex medical or emotional needs.
  • Some of our children have been involved with the juvenile justice system.
  • We cannot accept applications for single, Caucasian children, under the age of eight, because they just do not come to us “unmatched.” These children are typically adopted by their foster parents or relatives.

What Is An Adoptive Family?

An adoptive family is a “forever family,” no matter what, in which the adoptive parents have all of the legal rights and responsibilities as if the child was born to them.

What Do I Need To Do To Adopt?

  • Successfully complete this Adoption Orientation.
  • Complete the adoptive parent training program provided through FamiliesFirst Network, which is a 24 hour competency based course for pre-service assessment and selection of prospective foster and adoptive applicants. It is an eight week course typically held one night a week in various locations in Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa Counties for three hours each evening. You must complete all eight weeks in order to be approved to adopt.
  • Complete the Application to Adopt (adoption packet).
  • Complete an adoption home study assessment and have a positive recommendation for adoption.
  • Be willing to provide a permanent forever family for a child in need of a home.
  • Be an active part of the home study process. We will need your cooperation in getting necessary paperwork and information.
  • Be upfront and honest throughout the adoption assessment process.

How Do I Apply To Adopt?

  • You will be given your adoption packet about half-way through the adoptive parent training.
  • If you would like to complete your packet and submit it while still completing the adoptive parent training, you can do so, but you must complete the class before final approval of your home study.
  • We cannot accept the adoption packet unless it is completed thoroughly.
  • Please submit your completed packet to your adoptive parent training Facilitator before or after class.

How Long Does It Take To Adopt?

  • The adoptive parent training takes eight weeks.
  • Home study process takes at least sixty to ninety days.
  • The entire adoption process, from date of orientation completion to adoption finalization of the child or children, is impossible to determine. After your home study is approved you can start to find out about children waiting in foster care for adoption.
  • How long it will take you to be matched depends a lot on your flexibility. Some families find a match almost immediately; some approved adoptive families are never matched with a child.

What Does The Adoption Home Study Process Include?

Adoption Packet

  • Adoption Application
  • Questionnaires
  • Legal Forms
  • Reference List
  •    
  • Two relatives (One from each side of the family, if married)
  • Four Non-relatives
  • All Adult Children
  • Neighbors
  • Employment
  • School/Daycare of any children in the home
  • Financial Disclosure
  • Background Forms
  • You must include copies of the following:
  • Marriage license
  • Death decree(if applicable)
  • ALL previous divorce decrees
  • Driver's licenses/I.D.'s for all adult househhold members.
  • Thirty days proof of ALL income(job,social security, disability,retirement,etc.
  • Quality Parent Training certificate and Orientation certificate

Home Environment

  • Your home will be examined for any hazardous or unsafe conditions.
  • The cleanliness of your home will be taken into account.
  • It is not required that chemicals, alcohol, or medications be locked up, but it is preferred that they are out of reach of children.
  • A child cannot share a bedroom with an adult 18+ after the age of one.
  • Opposite genders must have separate bedrooms after the age of three (exception may be possible if the children are biological siblings, there are no safety   concerns, and a future solution is in place).
  • You must sign the Acknowledgement of Firearms Safety Requirement form

Information To Be Shared During Adoption Process

The interview process is in-depth, but an important and essential part of the adoption process!

All adoptive applicants must go through the same process.

  • We will discuss your motivation to adopt.
  • We will discuss your childhood history and family.
  • We will explore your support systems.
  • We will discuss child-rearing experiences and plans.
  • We will discuss past and present marital relationships.
  • We will discuss physical/mental health history.
  • We will discuss any criminal/child abuse history.
  • Health

  • Prospective adoptive parents must be physically capable of caring for children until the child or children reach the age of majority.
  • Adoptive parents who suffer from illnesses requiring treatment or medications will need to provide their physician information so a Health Certificate can be received.
  • Mental Health and Counseling

  • If you are on anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, or other psychotropic medications, you will be asked to have your physician complete a Health Certificate.
  • If you are in counseling or have been in counseling in the past, your therapist will need to provide a recommendation to our agency.
  • If you have had a psychiatric hospitalization, you should disclose this, as we need to get the associated reports.
  • We may request an evaluation by a Psychologist, LMHC, or LCSW if we see other concerns. You will be responsible for the cost of the evaluation.
  • Criminal and Child Abuse Background

    Some crimes may disqualify a person from being an adoptive parent.

    State mandated lifetime automatic criminal disqualifications - Felony conviction of the following:

  • Child abuse, abandonment, or neglect:
  • Domestic Violence;
  • Child pornography or other felony in which a child was a victim of the offense; or
  • Homicide, sexual battery, or other felony involving violence, other than felony assault or felony battery when an adult was the victim of the assault or battery.
  • We will discuss past and present marital relationships.
  • We will discuss physical/mental health history.
  • We will discuss any criminal/child abuse history.
  • Felony conviction within the last five (5) years of the following:
  • Assault;
  • Battery; or
  • A drug related offense
  • Financial

  • Families must be able to support themselves without the assistance of the Adoption Maintenance Subsidy.
  • You must be able to provide proof of all your income via pay stub, bank statement, tax return, or reward letter.
  • Then What Happens?

    • Once all the information we need has been gathered, we take every element of the process and put it into a written assessment or “adoption home study.”
    • Home study then goes through review process that can take up to two weeks.
    • If all information is within compliance it will be submitted for final approval by Adoption Manager.
    • If your home study is approved, you will review it to make sure it is accurate and either be asked to come into the office to sign a copy of your home study or a copy will be mailed to you and you will need to mail in signature page.

    What If There Are Issues?

    • If there are any issues identified throughout your assessment process, your Resource Family Counselor will meet with a committee to discuss the issues and make a decision regarding the approval/denial of your home study in what is called an Adoptive Applicant Review Committee meeting (AARC).
    • An AARC is required if you have a verified or not substantiated abuse report in your past or certain criminal charges. An AARC may also be required for any other problems that arise during the assessment process.
    • 120 Hearing – If the final determination of your home study is denial you will have the opportunity to request a 120 hearing where you go before a judge and it is their final decision whether your home study is approved.

    What Happens If My Home Study Is Approved?

    • Once your home study is completed, you can be considered for children who are available for adoption.
    • The adoption recruiter will contact you regarding children in Circuit 1 who meet your perimeters.
    • If you choose to move forward to be considered as a forever family for this child, a placement staffing will be held to determine which family best meets the need of the child/children. We find homes for our children, not children for your home.
    • Once you are selected for a child(ren), the Adoption Counselor will discuss with you a transition plan, which includes introductions and visitations with the child(ren). You will also get thorough information concerning the child(ren) and their background.

    What Support Is Available To Me After I Adopt?

    The Adoption Assistance Program* (AAP):

    • In-state tuition to any university, college, or degree program for 4 years (Until age 26)
    • MEDICAID coverage
    • A monetary subsidy for each child until child is eighteen years of age.
    • Non-Recurring expenses ($1000 per child) to pay for the adoption attorney of your choice.
    • Tax credit (See IRS.gov)

    Post-adoption Services – Children’s Home Society Adoption Support Team

    • Follow-up – finalization, 90 days, and 1 year(This is voluntary)
    • Access to resources
    • Therapist
    • Support Groups Available

    Support Groups:

    • Foster and Adoptive Parent Association (FAPA)
    • Grandparents Raising Grandchildren - Hosted by the Council on Aging

    It's Your Time to Decide

    It's Up To You

    We cannot change what happened in their lives yesterday.

    You can change what happens in their lives tomorrow.

    Take the next step:

    • Classes are held on a regular basis usually once a week for eight weeks in the evening from 6:00PM-9:00PM.
    • Classes are held in Pensacola, Pace, Crestview, and Fort Walton Beach.
    • Class space is limited, so call ahead!
    • To register for the required adoption training and begin the adoption process, please call Peggy Custred at (850) 469-3847 or e-mail at Pcustred@bhcpns.org.
    Sponsored by Lakeview Center and the State of Florida, Department of Children and Families