Those interested in becoming foster parents are invited to get started now, as the spring foster-adoption class is set to begin.
A seven week course that meets one night per week, the spring foster/adoption training class is the first step for foster and adoptive families in the state of Florida. The class is partially on Zoom and partially in-person at Foster Tallahassee, at 1000 W Tharpe Street in Tallahassee.
The first class is Tuesday, Feb. 21 from 6 to 9 p.m.
“In the class we discuss things that come up on your fostering journey – the local court system, how to parent children from hard places, the impact of trauma on development and behavior, as well as various guest speakers,” said Calyn Stringer, who teaches the classes on behalf of Northwest Florida Health Network and Camelot Community Care.
She said if at least five people from Franklin County sign up, the teachers would be willing to come down to conduct the in-person classes.
Northwest Florida Health Network (formerly Big Bend Community Based Care), holds the contract with the Florida Department of Children and Families to administer foster care services in Circuit 2 while Camelot Community Care does adoption services, with Alexis Corder teaching the course on Camelot’s behalf.
When children are removed from a home by DCF, the court first looks to friends and family to handle the fostering. “A lot never go into traditional foster care.” Stringer said. “The law is always written where we want to place with family and friends first.”
But if that is not feasible, Stringer said, the court turns to a foster family licensed through Northwest Florida Health Network.
“Those kids are with them for the duration of the case,” she said. “They stand in the gap (so children) can heal from what they experience.
“There are a lot of checks and balances before kids are removed from a home,” Stringer said, noting that background checks and references are reviewed, and site visits made to ensure that a bed is set up for that child, and that the house has working smoke detectors, among several things.
“Some only take teenagers, some only elementary,” she said. “We may only need a home for a night or two, but it can be upwards of three years of time.”
Foster families receive a stipend from the state, with the amount varying depending on the age of the child, Stringer said.
Medicaid, food stamp benefits and help with daycare also can be available. “There are a lot of assistance programs,” she said. “(But) you will never get rich fostering children.”
Molly Clore, director of foster family support for NWF Health Network, said there currently are five licensed foster families in Franklin County.
“We are so grateful for each one,” she said. “We have a continuous need for more foster families as many foster families adopt or transition out of foster care to focus on maintaining valued relationships with the biological families of the children in their home long after the children are reunified and have transitioned home. These lifelong supports are so valuable.”
Stringer and her husband are just such parents, having adopted a sibling group of five.
“There’s never a time where I say I regret that. Our everyday is hard, but when I look back on my life I wouldn’t want to think about what I left on the table,” she said.
“Love is not temporary,” Stringer said. “It’s going to live with them for the rest of their lives.”
Contact Calyn Stringer at 850-264-6713 or Calyn.Stringer@nwfhealth.org for more information or to register for the course.