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FamiliesFirst Network - A division of Lakeview Center, Inc. - Foster Parenting Requirements

Are you a Foster Parent? If so, log in here. If not, call (850) 453-7777 or (850) 833-3898 for more information. Looking for Adoption info, click here or call 1-866-313-9874.


Foster Parent Orientation

Please read the following Foster Parent Orientation and proceed to the test...

Step Forward. Be a Foster Parent.


Hear why Mary feels like she missed out on her senior year of high school.
What Does it Take to Be a Foster Parent?


Hear what Brenda, a foster parent of teenagers, has to say about her experiences.
Visit Lakeview's YouTube page for more Foster Parent videos

WELCOME!

Who Are We?

FamiliesFirst 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 related services for Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton Counties.

What Is Foster Parenting?

  • Licensed foster parents provide temporary care for children who have been removed from their biological family, usually because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment until they can return home.
  • Licensed foster parents must go through a rigorous licensing process and abide by State mandated standards regarding discipline, confidentiality and other issues.
  • Foster parenting is a privilege in the State of Florida, not a right.
  • Relative and non-relative caregivers are held to a different standard and receive fewer services.

Highlights of FFN's Family Foster Home Licensing Requirements

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Earn sufficient income to support your household without relying on board payment
  • Can be single or married, but if married or cohabitating both must participate in parenting
  • No more than 5 children in the home, including biological, adopted, daycare, and foster children
  • There can be no more than two children under the age of two in the home
  • Foster home must have a bed for each child
  • Foster children over the age of 12 months cannot sleep in the foster parent's bedroom
  • Children over the age of 3 cannot sleep in a room with a child of the opposite gender (exceptions can be granted by the agency for siblings to share a room)
  • Health Inspection
  • Fire safety inspection
  • A fire extinguisher 2A-10-BC on each floor
  • Must have working smoke detectors in all bedrooms
  • At least one unobstructed window measuring 5.2 sq. ft. in each bedroom. This window must be able open
  • Burglar bars must be able to be released from inside of home
  • No double-cylinder dead bolt locks
  • No appliances connected via an extension cord, no open electrical outlets
  • Homes with swimming pools must complete a basic water safety course; pools must have a four foot barrier; barrier must have a safety feature; hot tubs must have a safety cover that is locked when not in use
  • Complete Foster Parent Pre-service Training prior to licensure
  • Complete an in-depth family assessment to include self study questionnaires and other licensing requirements
  • Background checks that include FBI, FDLE, local checks, child abuse registry check, DMV check, and delinquency checks
  • Provide employment references, three personal references, adult child references, school and daycare references

Additional Information Needed

  • Pay verification
  • Final Bankruptcy Order (if applicable)
  • Mortgage Foreclosure Order (if applicable)
  • Copy of driver's license
  • Verification of current auto insurance
  • Health Certificate (if on medications for chronic illness)

The Child Welfare System

How Do Children Come Into Care?

  • An allegation of abuse 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 they 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
  • If a suitable relative or non-relative is not located, then the child is placed in a licensed foster home

Family Centered Practice

FamiliesFirst Network foster families embrace family centered practice – fostering children and encouraging families. We work with the families of the children in our homes, focusing on the family as a whole and not just the children. Biological family members are seen as partners in the process, helping to define problems and identify solutions.

While each foster family's level of engagement with the biological family is different, every foster family is expected to maintain a level of respect for the biological family and do everything possible to help the family and child maintain a positive, healthy bond. Some excellent family engagement activities include:

Some excellent family engagement activities include:

  • Transporting to and from visitation
  • Acting as a third party supervisor for visitation
  • Inviting parents to medical appointments and teacher conferences
  • Sending class work, art work and pictures of the children to parents
  • Inviting parents to special events like plays, picnics or ball games

The Parents

When their children are removed, the biological parents are given a case plan made up of individualized requirements that must be completed before they will be reunified with the children.

Case Plans

  • Every family involved with the dependency system has a case plan.
  • A case plan is a document filed with the court that outlines tasks for parents, caseworkers, caregivers, and children to complete to make the family safe from further abuse.
  • Every case plan has a goal. Reunification with a parent is almost always the goal on children who have been first removed from the home.

Court

  • All dependency cases are reviewed by a judge at least every six months
  • The agency will provide reports on the family's progress to the court
  • A judge can order changes in a child's legal status
  • A judge will order the type and frequency of visitation between parent and children
  • Foster Parents can attend court hearings

The Role of a Foster Parent

Foster Parents:

  • Protect and nurture children in a safe environment with unconditional positive support
  • Support relationships among children and their birth parents, siblings, and kin
  • Support permanent placement for the child, focusing first on reuniting the child with their birth family or,
    other options leading to a permanent home for the child
  • Participate as a team member of the child's treatment team
  • Help children cope with separation and loss
  • Support children with building healthy attachments
  • Use discipline appropriate to the child's age and stage of development
  • Build self esteem
  • Give positive guidance
  • Support children's cultural identity and religious beliefs

Foster Parents Also:

  • Transport children to medical, dental, and counseling appointments
  • Transport children to visitation with parents
  • Attend meetings and staffings for children placed in their home
  • Work with service providers

Supporting a Child's Religious Beliefs:

  • If the biological parents request that their child attend a specific denomination or type of worship service,
    you are REQUIRED to make arrangements to meet that request. This does NOT mean that you have to attend that service.
  • If you cannot comply with this request, you cannot be licensed

Health and Safety

Family Foster Homes

Home Safety

  • Home must be inspected and approved by Foster Home Development
  • All chemicals, cleaning supplies, and medications must be locked (key lock)
  • Alcoholic beverages must be stored out of reach of children
  • Sign the Acknowledgement of Firearms Safety Requirement form
  • Hot water heater must be set to 120F or less
  • Thermometer placed in refrigerator
  • First aid kit accessible to caregivers
  • Homes must be free of tobacco smoke
  • Each foster child must be provided with personal space to store their belongings
  • Pets vaccinations must be current and documentation provided
  • Children's access to large pets or dangerous animals must be restricted
  • Home must have safe outdoor area as part or property or within reasonable walking distance
  • Transportation and access to telephone must be immediately available for use in emergencies
  • Home must have access to schools, churches, medical care, recreation, and community facilities
  • Testing for radon gas (Walton County only)

Fire Safety

  • Complete fire safety inspection
  • All combustibles must be stored away from sources of heat
  • Home must not be heated by unvented gas heaters
  • Evacuation plan must be posted
  • Hold fire drill twice a year
  • All fireplaces, space heaters, and hot surfaces must be shielded against accidental contact
  • Must have two means of egress from every sleeping area
  • Bedrooms in basement or on second floor must have either a window or door with approved means of exit
  • Home is equipped with working smoke detectors in all bedrooms
  • A tagged fire extinguisher (2A10BC or larger) must be located in kitchen and on second floor
  • Home equipped with burglar bars must be able to be released from inside of home or other means of exit available from each sleeping area

Transportation Safety

  • All vehicles used to transport children must be equipped with seat belts
  • All children ages five and under must be in an approved car seat
  • All vehicles used by foster parents must have valid auto insurance
  • All foster parents who drive must have a valid driver's license
  • Vehicles used to transport foster children must be free of tobacco smoke

Water Safety

  • Swimming pools must have a barrier on all four sides of at least four feet
  • All access through barrier have one of the following features: alarm, key lock, self locking doors, bolt that is inaccessible to children
  • When swimming pool is not in use all entry points must be locked
  • Steps or ladders leading to above ground pool must be secured, locked, or removed when not in use
  • Hot tubs will be required to have a safety cover that is locked when not in use
  • Swimming pools will be equipped with a either a ring buoy, rescue tube, or other appropriate flotation device with a rope attached
  • Foster parents who have a pool or whose home is adjacent to a body of water unprotected by a four foot barrier will complete a basic water safety course
  • Foster parents must directly supervise all children who are using the swimming pool, spa, or hot tub, or are in the pool area
  • Foster parents must place life jackets on all foster children who are not proficient swimmers

Sleeping Arrangements

  • Foster children must have their own bed or crib
  • Co-sleeping is forbidden
  • Drop side cribs are not allowed
  • Foster children under the age of 1 are allowed to sleep in crib in the foster parent's bedroom
  • Foster children over the age of 3 cannot share a room with a child of the opposite gender (exceptions can be granted by the agency for siblings of opposite gender to share a room)
  • Bunk beds must have a safety rail on upper tier for children ages 10 and under
  • Bunk beds can only have 2 tiers

Let's Talk Money

Board Payments

  • Foster parents receive monthly board for every child in their care
  • These funds are reimbursements, not a salary
  • Board payments are not taxable and cannot be used as a source of income
  • Board payments cannot be used when applying for loans
  • Receipts are not required for board payments
  • Expenses incurred for the children after the board payment is spent are NOT reimbursed

Foster Care Board Rates

Ages Daily Rate
0 - 5 $14.14
6 - 12 $14.47
13 - 14 $18.63
15 - 17 $23.67

Clothing Allowance

  • Twice a year every child in care receives a clothing allowance to purchase clothing for the next season
  • Ages 0-4 receive $100 twice a year
  • Ages 5-17 receive $150 twice a year

Addition Information

  • Allowances provided in the board payment can NOT be taken away as a method of discipline
  • Foster Parents are not responsible for any medical expenses
  • Children in foster care are eligible for WIC
  • Foster parents are not allowed to apply for Food Stamps or Cash Assistance on the behalf of foster children

Personal and Family Information

The licensing process is an assessment on you, your family, and your home. Prospective foster parents must be up front and honest about themselves. You must be willing to share personal information about you and your family.

Information To Be Shared During Licensing Process

  • Marital issues
  • Criminal record
  • Abuse reports
  • Dependency involvement
  • Chronic health issues
  • Medications
  • Limited sight or hearing
  • Mental health issues
  • Poor relationships with adult children
  • Financial instability
  • Abuse suffered as a child
  • Domestic violence
  • Lack of transportation
  • Home daycare
  • Other adults living in the home or on property

Health

  • Prospective foster parents must be physically capable of caring for children
  • Foster parents who suffer from chronic illnesses must have their physician complete a Health Certificate
  • Foster parents who are on disability must also have a Health Certificate

Mental Health and Counseling

  • If you are on anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, or other psychotropic medications, you will be asked to have your physician to 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.
  • We may request an evaluation by a Psychologist, LMHC, or LCSW if we see other concerns. You will be responsible to the cost of the evaluation.

Criminal and Child Abuse Background

  • Some crimes may disqualify a person from being a foster parent. Violent crimes, drug related crimes, and felony thefts are disqualifying offenses
  • A DUI in the past five years is also a disqualifying offense
  • If you are on probation for any crime, you cannot be licensed
  • A verified finding on a child abuse report is also a disqualifying offense

Financial

Families must be able to support themselves without the assistance of a foster care board payment.
Families who are going through a mortgage foreclosure and or bankruptcy can not be licensed.

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.

Registering for Pre-Service Training

  • Classes are held on a regular basis usually once a week for nine weeks in the evening from 6-9 p.m.
  • Classes are held in Pensacola, Milton, Crestview, and Fort Walton Beach
  • To register for pre-service training call 453-7777