FOSTER CARE

Children and teens who are in foster care are just like other kids. They go to school, they have friends and participate in extracurricular activities, they play sports or read books, and they live right here in our community. The difference is that they’ve experienced a negative family situation, trauma, abuse, or neglect, which makes living at home unsafe––at least for the time being. While we work with parents to resolve issues and overcome challenges, with the goal of reuniting them with their kids, the children need a safe, stable, and caring place to live. In most cases, their time with foster parents is temporary.

It’s an act of selflessness to care for children and teens in our community. Becoming a foster parent can make a lifetime of difference to families around you. Whether you’ve made the decision to foster or would like to learn more, complete the foster inquiry form or call 904.421.5864.

Why foster through Family Support Services?

We work with community-based partner agencies to provide family intervention and family preservation, foster care and adoption services.

  • We give every foster family the personalized attention they need and deserve
  • We help our foster parents determine the characteristics of kids that will fit best in their homes.
  • We provide ongoing, child-specific training.
  • We offer support, guidance and resources whenever you need us.

FOSTER NOW

7 steps to becoming a foster parent

  1. Contact us, we’ll give you all the information you need to know and answer any questions you may have
  2. Complete a background screening
  3. Have a home inspection to ensure it meets State of Florida licensing standards
  4. Complete PRIDE training, which is a state requirement to become a licensed foster parent
  5. Meet your counselor, who will provide support and guidance through the licensing of your home for foster care
  6. Receive foster home approval from the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF)
  7. We’ll contact you when a child comes into care and needs a supportive home

Schedule of classes

Get details about our course schedules. These required trainings provide insight into how the child welfare system works, parenting a child who has experienced trauma, meeting the specific needs of foster children, and more.

Helpful Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the requirements to become a foster parent?

    You must:

    • Be at least 21 years old
    • Be a U.S. citizen
    • Pass a background screening
    • Complete the adoptive home application
    • Complete a home study and in-person interview
    • Have a valid Florida driver’s license, a vehicle in working condition and current auto insurance

    Qualified adults can be licensed to foster, regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, age, gender, home ownership or income level.

  • How long does it take to get licensed to be a foster parent?

    Generally, 10-14 weeks. The process includes an in-person interview, home visit, training and completed home study.

  • Are there different types of foster care?

    • Level I: Child specific foster home for relatives and non-relative caregivers
    • Level II Traditional: General foster home
    • Level III Safe Harbor: Specialized training required to work with sexually exploited youth; additional training in human trafficking required
    • Level IV Therapeutic: Specific training required to care for kids with mental, emotional or behavioral needs
    • Level V Medical: A medical background and the ability to provide specialized care for children with medically-complex conditions; additional training required
    • Short-term Respite Care: Foster homes that serve as backup to traditional foster care homes in case of emergency or pre-planned absence; typically less than two weeks

    • Most foster parents work full-time. Vouchers for day care are provided for foster children 8 and younger.
    • You may have pets, however, Rottweilers, pit bulls and certain species of exotic pets may prevent you from meeting licensing requirements.

  • Can I choose the types of children who I foster?

    We work with you to match children based on preferences, gender, age, geographic locations and lifestyle.

    Each foster child’s case is different. While the primary goal is to reunify the child with their biological family, in cases where children cannot be reunified with their parents, the focus shifts to finding adoptive families. Visit heartgalleryjax.org to see children currently in need of a forever family.

  • Is financial assistance available to help pay for a child’s care?

    Yes, a monthly stipend helps reimburse associated costs for housing, transportation, clothing and food. The daily rate is set by the state and is based on the child’s age and individual needs.

    • Medicaid and free lunch benefits are provided.
    • Children aged 8 and younger qualify for a voucher to cover the expense of child care.
    • Free community services and events are available to our foster parents and children.

  • Are additional training and resources available?

    • Yes, you’ll receive continuous support from FSS, the case manager, guardian ad litem, counseling services, crisis support, and others in the community. Respite care is available.

    Please review our foster care resources here or download the Foster Parent Handbook.

Foster and Adoptive Information Form for Residents in Duval and Nassau Counties






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Keeping Family Together

Our focus in the community centers around strengthening families through in-home services, emergency assistance and community resources in an attempt to keep children with their families. We offer programs and in-home training for parenting, life skills, financial management, and coping.

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 pave the way and change their direction. Visit our Heart Gallery to see waiting children in Jacksonville.

Foster Care Stories


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