JACKSONVILLE, Fla -

Here in Florida there are over 8,000 children currently in foster care. There are many ways for the community to get involved and help these kids who are in transition from foster or adoptive parents to volunteers and mentors. There’s one group of children who need a special type of foster care.

Program Coordinator for Therapeutic Foster Care for Daniel Kids, Julia Kalinski says there is traditional foster care which some people may be more familiar with and then there is the Specialized Therapeutic Foster Care or STFC.

"Many kids simply can’t live with their families because of issues and these particular kids can’t be in traditional foster care either," Kalinski says. "These are children who have severe emotional or behavioral issues often stemming from prior neglect or abuse. That’s where STFC comes in. this program provides a safe, nurturing place for them to work out their issues."

Kalinski says Daniels STFC program is now the largest in the state of Florida and serves local children and children with severe needs from other counties.

"All kinds of good kids end up in foster care when bad things happen in their families," Kalinski says. "Whether it’s domestic abuse, or neglect there are wide-ranging reasons for kids to need foster parents. For a child to be in STFC there are certain criteria."

Kalinski says the criteria include:

  • Be between the ages of 5 and 17
  • Exhibit symptoms of emotional or mental distress
  • Be unable to live in their own homes or need additional care outside of typical foster care

Kalinski says that’s where dedicated, caring foster parents like Belinda James come in. She says they provide these children a temporary and supportive home where they can heal.

"It’s so rewarding to know how much foster parents are able to help these children," James says. "We know that being there for them and providing stability and love makes such a huge difference in their lives."

Kalinski says there are several requirements to become a foster parent:

  • Be able to provide a stable, nurturing home environment
  • Be willing to be screened for law violations
  • Own a reliable car and provide proof of insurance
  • Complete 30-hour foster care training and 30-hour therapeutic training course

Family Support Services (FSS) and Daniel work in partnership to train and license traditional and therapeutic foster parents so they can help the kids who really need it most, Kalinski says.

"There’s a need for foster parents as diverse as the kids who we are serving," James says. "We need individuals and families who can provide a safe and loving home to a child in need in every community in this state."

Daniel Kids is starting a training session for Therapeutic Foster Care and Family Support Services offers ongoing training for Traditional Foster Care.

Daniel’s classes are going to start on June 7th and will be every Saturday in June from 9-3pm.

If interested in Daniels' Therapeutic Foster Care contact Mary Blackmon at 904-296-1055 x 2708 or email her at mblackmon@danielkids.org . There is a short screening process applicants are asked a few short questions and then given a detailed class schedule.

For traditional foster care please call 904-421-5800 and ask about the PRIDE training.

Family Support Services (FSS)

www.fssjax.org

(904) 421-5800