Since 2001, Family Support Services of North Florida (FSS) has been the lead agency for family preservation, foster care, adoption, and extended foster care in Duval and Nassau counties in North Florida.
FSS, in partnership with other community organizations, including the Florida Department of Children and Families, has a primary goal to do everything possible to keep a child safely with their family. We offer programs and in-home training for parenting, life skills, financial management, coping, and more, in order to help keep children safely at home. When the home environment can’t offer the safety and stability a child needs, we work to provide them with a safe and loving foster family and permanency through reunification or adoption.
Some teens in care may turn 18 before being reunified with their parents or adopted. To help them prepare for the future, we teach independent living and life skills that enable them to become self-sufficient.
When families struggle, whether financially, physically or emotionally, it’s important that they be connected to services and supports in our community without feeling stigmatized. We understand and have a community of partners who are ready to help.
Family preservation is a community effort to provide short-term services when a family is faced with challenge and crisis. We offer and oversee services that help families get back on track. Families referred by the Florida Department of Children and Families receive assistance through a series of programs and case management that helps keep children at home and avoid foster care:
Strengthening Ties & Empowering Parents (STEPS) is an in-home intervention program to help divert child safety and stabilization issues. Depending on risk level, families receive between one and three home visits a month, for an average of three months. We also connect families to community resources for ongoing support.
High-Risk Newborn (HRN) is a program providing behavioral health and social services to caregivers with children ages 0 to 5, who may be at risk for developing severe mental health disorders. Parents learn how to interact with their children to build strong bonds through support and nurturing. Clinicians are trained in early childhood development, behavioral observations, developmental screening, and parent and child interactions.
Family Assessment Support Team (FAST) is an in-home program focused on providing intensive supervision and services with child protective oversight. The program ensures that children remain safe at home through proper parenting, anger management counseling, substance abuse treatment and domestic violence counseling.
Integrated Practice Team (IPT) is a group of specialized community partners who offer expertise in creating a comprehensive family services plan. Through personalized planning, we ensure that family needs are being met, while safely keeping children at home. IPT helps prevent children from being removed from their homes and shortens the time they are away from home if temporary foster care is needed.
CAREGIVER SUPPORT FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who do I contact if my family needs help or if I know of a family who needs help?
Please contact the Florida Department of Children and Families at 904-723-2000 or apply for assistance.
Does it cost money to get help?
No, the Department of Children and Families Economic Self Sufficiency Program has several aspects to provide assistance to families in Florida, including Food Assistance, Temporary Cash Assistance, Medicaid and Refugee Assistance. (link to each as indicated) Each programs has eligibility requirements, but you may apply for any (or all) of the programs at one time using the same application.
Where can I get financial assistance?
Please call our community partner, United Way. Dial 2-1-1.
Where can I get child care help?
Please contact our community partner, Early Learning Coalition, 904-208-2040
Where can I get housing assistance?
Are there other programs or services that can help my family?
Yes, please see our resources, here.
What is a safety plan?
A safety plan is an agreement between parent(s) and child welfare providers to ensure the ongoing safety of the child(ren). These plans usually initiate with the Florida Department of Children and Families and continue through the life of the services case. Plans are created with parent, friends and family involvement to make sure everyone understands the situation and expectations.
What is the difference between family preservation services and judicial services?
Family preservation services are non-judicial services recommended by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) for a family in crisis. These services give parents an opportunity to resolve issues with the child at home while receiving services to support and strengthen the family. When DCF is unable to protect a child from risk or harm, judicial services intervene to place the children in a safe environment, which could be with family or foster parents, while the parent completes a case plan. The progress the parent makes on the case plan is monitored by the courts.
FOSTER A CHILD
Children and teens who are in foster care live right here in our community. They come into our care because of a negative family situation, trauma, abuse or neglect. While we work with parents to resolve issues and help them overcome crisis, with a goal of reunification, the children need a safe, stable and caring place to live.
ADOPT A CHILD
Children and teens who can no longer live with their biological families need stability, security, love and support from a forever family. If you have room in your life, consider adoption out of foster care to help them succeed in life. Becoming an adoptive parent to a child or teen out of foster care means changing the direction of a life forever.