May is National Foster Care Month. And it’s a great time to take a look at the amazing people who open their homes to help kids in need right here in our own community.
There are over 8,000 kids in foster care in Florida. 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.
Director of community mental health services for Daniel, Jaime Mericle, says, “The role of foster parents is truly inspiring. It can really change the course of a child’s life for the better. Foster parenting may not be for everyone, but for those who choose to dedicate their time, their love and their homes to abused and neglected children, it is a calling.”
Mericle says all kinds of good kids end up in foster care when bad things happen in their families, whether it’s domestic abuse, drug use or neglect. There are wide-ranging reasons for kids to need foster parents.
“One of the biggest needs we see locally is foster parents who are willing to help teenage kids,” Mericle says.
Mericle says it’s easy for people to become foster parents. Family Support Services – FSS -- does a great job of training and licensing foster parents so they can help the kids who really need it most.
You can contact Family Support Services at fssjax.org or by calling (904) 421-5800.
With the thousands of kids in foster care Mericle says there’s really a big age range there; from newborns to teenagers.
“There’s a need foster parents as diverse as the kids who we are serving,” Mericle 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.”
The requirements to foster a child are:
- You must be at least 18 years of age
- You may be married or single
- You may own your home, or rent
- You can work outside the home
- You must be able to work in partnership with the system of care
Daniel is having an open house on June 29. It’s open for people who are interested in getting more information about how to become foster parents. Mericle believes it would be a great time to come out and ask questions and begin that conversation.
You can find out more about the parent open house at danielkids.org, (904) 296-1055