The latest news about Florida State Foster/Adoptive Parent Association:
Check the elections page on this site for updates!
(Note: Only paid members can vote in FSFAPA elections. To become a member or renew, please click here.)
We have added a “Dealing with Trauma” section to our resources page (replicated below) with links to PDFs provided via Sunshine Health. This page will be updated as additional resources are made available.
Message to FSFAPA From Sunshine Health VP Neiko Shea
In response to the horrific tragedy that occurred … at Stoneman Douglas High School, Sunshine Health would like to offer our support for your foster and adoptive parents who may have been impacted by this traumatic event.
Dealing with Trauma
- Helping Teens with Traumatic Grief (for Caregivers)
- Helping Youth After Community Violence (Tips for Educators) – useful for caregivers, too!
- Helping Children Cope with Death or Tragedy
(These links all permanently added to the FloridaFAPA.org Resource Page)
Family-Match, an adoption matching technology, presented by the Selfless Love Foundation, is launching a statewide initiative with CBC’s and providers to reduce the time to adoption placement and improve the quality of matches. With a compatibility assessment designed by the former lead researcher from eHarmony, approved families will get an unprecedented opportunity to be identified by child welfare workers across the state.
Prospective adoptive families can begin on boarding themselves (at no cost) starting on Feb 15th, case workers will be trained and begin registering children in May and June, and the matching functionality will be fully activated by Summer 2018.
For more information visit: selflesslovefoundation.org/family-match
A free camping / kayaking excursion weekend is planned for Fri. Feb. 16 – Sunday, Feb. 18 at Camp Anderson. Check out the link and explore the event video and registration. Paintball has been added to this event so bring an extra jacket for padding!
Boys only, ages 12-18 … don’t miss it!!!
WHEREAS, foster families provide a unique opportunity to impact children’s lives by providing care for children until they can be reunified with their families, or find a forever family; and
WHEREAS, children in foster care need and deserve a loving, supportive, nurturing, and quality
foster family; and
WHEREAS, approximately 5,272 foster families are currently licensed throughout the State of Florida; and
WHEREAS, the Governor’s Office of Adoption and Child Protection, Florida Department of Children and Families, community-based care lead agencies, Florida Foster and Adoptive Parent Association, state and local agencies, and communities join together to raise awareness of the need for quality foster families in Florida; and
WHEREAS, approximately 7,184 children in Florida live with foster families; and
WHEREAS, Florida Statutes designates the second week of February as Florida Foster Family Appreciation Week, to recognize the enduring and invaluable contributions foster parents provide to children in their care; and
WHEREAS, families and children across the great State of Florida will celebrate the impact that foster families have on children and families; and
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Rick Scott, Governor of the State of Florida, do hereby extend greetings and best wishes to all observing February 12-18, 2018, as Florida Foster Family Appreciation Week and encourage all Floridians to consider opening their hearts and homes to children in this state who Florida Foster Family Appreciation Week proclamation are in need of a quality foster family.
June 28 – July 1, 2018 | Orlando, Florida
Caribe Royale All-Suite Hotel and Conference Center
Join the National Foster Parent Association in partnership with the Florida State Foster and Adoptive Parent Association at our national learning conference for foster, kinship, and adoptive parents, and child welfare professionals.
Hotel reservations have gone go live! Daily hotel rates for the Caribe Royale All-Suite Hotel and Conference Center range from Queen Double – $129; Standard King – $129; King Deluxe – $149; Executive Suite – $329 and Villa Rates/Two bedroom villa – $229.
Listed below is a dedicated booking website that has been created for our event. Our guests will be able to make, modify and cancel their hotel reservations online, as well as take advantage of any room upgrades, amenities or other services offered by the hotel.
Reservations can also be made by contacting the hotel’s dedicated Group Reservations number directly at 1-888-258-7501 or the hotel’s main line at 407-238-8000. To receive the group rate, you must identify yourself as an attendee of the 2018 Foster Parent Conference at the time of booking.
The group link is listed below. This link does not require a group or attendee code to book. You only have to click on the dates and you will receive the contracted group rates. The site will reference additional hotel fees, these fees have been waived for our group.
The Fostering Success Program is a one year internship that provides paid, part time employment in a Florida state government agency making $10 per hour.
The internship is open to current or former foster youth ages 18 to 26. The program strives to support the intern in increasing their professional and lifeskills for future employment opportunities.
Openings now in the current internship year at four different agencies, and scheduling for training and internships starting July, 2018.
To learn more or to apply, email Abigail Phelps at Abigail.Phelps@MyFLFamilies.com
The latest memo can be found at our resource page or by clicking this link.
The adjustment is a result of a 2013 law that requires an annual adjustment of the foster care board rate equal to the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index.
[Tallahassee, Florida] – The Florida Guardian ad Litem Program has won a resounding legal victory in the United States Supreme Court – upholding the principle that a child’s best interests are paramount in contested paternity proceedings.
The victory came on Dec. 11, 2017, when the high court rejected the 11th-hour claims of a Florida man, M.L., who asserted he was the biological father of J.L., who was born addicted to cocaine in 2015. The Department of Children and Families had removed the newborn from his biological mother and soon placed him with the foster parents who want to adopt the child. On the eve of the termination of rights hearing, the father – who had previously shown little interest in the child – tried to prevent the court from making J.L. legally free for adoption by his foster parents. This would have had the effect of removing him from the family he has come to know as his own.
“The child’s parents had basically abandoned him,” said Guardian ad Litem Executive Director Alan Abramowitz. “But he was in a loving, stable foster home, and it was in his best interests to have a forever family.”
The Guardian ad Litem Program fought to prevent the last-minute disruption – all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
At J.L.’s shelter hearing in January 2015, DCF advised the court the mother was married, but estranged from her husband, who had no interest in the child. The mother identified M.L. as the biological father. He later claimed to have been present at J.L.’s birth and was named on the birth certificate. However, under Florida law, the mother’s husband was J.L.’s legal father.
Court records show that the mother, husband and M.L. all attended a subsequent hearing, and M.L. was advised on how to establish paternity. The mother, her husband and M.L. were referred for DNA testing in March 2015. Yet M.L. “waited a year and a half to establish his paternity, until after DCF filed its termination petition, and he still did not have DNA confirmation that he was the child’s biological father.” M.L. v. Dep’t of Children & Fams., 227 So. 3d 142, 146 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017).
Despite M.L.’s lengthy delay, the trial court entertained his emergency motion to intervene and to stay the pending termination trial. After the court denied the motion, it still permitted M.L. to file an amended motion to intervene. The court even continued the trial, admonishing the parties to complete anything they needed to prior to the trial. The court heard and denied M.L.’s amended motion, conducted the termination trial, and entered an order terminating the rights of the mother and her husband.
GAL was the lone voice fighting for the child. On Monday, the high court declined to review a ruling by the Fourth District Court of Appeal that M.L. had waited too long to assert his rights.
“I was thrilled to advocate in the United States Supreme Court for the legal rights of this child,” said GAL appellate attorney Thomasina Moore. “He’s been scheduled to be adopted, and it’s been postponed. The court’s ruling affirms that children’s interests must come first in dependency proceedings.”
Thanks to the high court ruling, J.L.’s adoption was finalized on Friday, Dec. 15, 2017.
Release by Florida GAL; contact Margie Menzel (850) 922-7287 for more information.
Thank you for your interest in the 2018 Florida State Foster Parent Association and National Foster Parent Association Joint Education Conference. The conference will be held June 28-July 1, 2018 in Orlando. (for the event page click here) We look forward to receiving your innovative proposals and value your participation in our conference.
Deadline for Proposals
All proposals must be submitted electronically by Dec. 1, 2017 using this link to submit your proposal.
We encourage proposals that relate to the conference theme while being useful for our conference participants: typically foster, kinship and adoptive families (as well as child welfare and mental health professionals.) Strategies for advocacy – legislative and child or family focused – are welcome.
- Relevance to the conference theme, special populations, organizations and individuals in/outside the the formal child welfare system.
- Engaging format, including use of handouts, interactive presentations and discussions, hands-on learning opportunities.
- Ability to be replicated and adapted by participants within their families, communities, associations and practice areas.
- Explanation of procedure and tools for implementation.
- Relevance to foster, adoptive and kinship families and agency professionals.
- All workshops are 90 minutes in length. The selected presenters MUST agree in writing to provide an electronic copy of any handout materials for possible publication/posting on the conference website and to provide paper copies of handouts are due to FSFAPA by June 21, 2018.
- All presenters and any co-presenters MUST register for the conference. Presenters and co-presenters MUST pay their own expenses, including conference registration. Conference registration is reduced to $150 for presenters and co-presenters who want to attend other workshops and conference events (including any meals). Presenter and co-presenters who attend only their own workshop can register at no cost.
Please note: FSFAPA and/or NFPA will NOT provide projectors or laptops for any workshops. Presenters must bring this equipment with them if it is required for their presentation. This includes any cords or adapters needed to operate your equipment. FSFAPA and/or NFPA do not pay for any presentations, nor do they provide lodging assistance for presenters.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Governor Rick Scott’s Securing Florida’s Future budget proposes $3.1 billion for the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to continue carrying out the agency’s mission to keep vulnerable children and families safe, support adoptive families, and expand and improve community behavioral health services. This funding will also support Florida’s response to the national opioid crisis impacting families and communities across the state.
Governor Scott said, “The safety of Florida’s families has always been a top priority in our state and these investments included in the Securing Florida’s Future Budget will continue to enhance support for the services DCF provides to Floridians and communities. We are making critical investments to support those struggling with opioid addiction. The individuals struggling with drug use are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends, and it is crucial that we remain committed to doing all we can to ensure they have the support and services they need. The investments in this year’s budget also serve to further strengthen our commitment to protecting children by helping with retention and workload of Florida’s Child Protective Investigators and Florida Abuse Hotline counselors. I look forward to working with the Legislature to support this funding as we continue to work together to keep vulnerable children safe.”
DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said, “Protecting the vulnerable is the core of our mission. DCF works diligently with our partners to promote strong and healthy families. Governor Scott’s proposed budget shows his commitment to Florida’s most vulnerable citizens and the importance of providing resources to allow DCF to ensure the health and safety of Florida’s families. It only takes one caring adult to change the life of a child and investing in our children today creates a hopeful and prosperous tomorrow.”
Governor Scott’s Securing Florida’s Future budget includes:
$10 million investment for an additional 130 Child Protective Investigator (CPI) positions and Florida Abuse Hotline counselors within the Florida Department of Children and Families. This investment will address retention and workload statewide as these individuals continue to focus on keeping vulnerable children safe;
$10.4 million for the Community-Based Care Lead Agencies to maintain funding for dependency case management positions to support increasing out-of-home care caseloads of case managers;
$2.2 million to expand the existing continuum of care for victims of human trafficking;
$2.2 million for maintenance adoption subsidies, which provides funding for the families of children who are adopted from foster care to receive the services they need. This is an increase over current year funding, resulting in a nearly $200 million investment;
$27 million for year two of the State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grant for medication-assisted treatment and support and prevention services;
$15 million to enhance substance abuse service capacity statewide, including increasing outpatient, aftercare, recovery support, residential, and medication-assisted treatment;
$2.8 million to create three new Forensic Multidisciplinary Teams to serve individuals with mental illnesses who are charged with non-violent felony offenses or are at-risk of being charged with a non-violent felony offense;
$2.2 million to implement Coordinated Specialty Care treatment programs targeting youth and young adults ages 15-30 with early serious mental illness.
Jessica Pryce, Director, Florida Institute of Child Welfare, said, “We are continually grateful that the Governor puts the interests and safety of Florida’s children at the forefront of Florida’s priorities. This budget will facilitate an increase in essential services to vulnerable children and adoptive families, including vital support to the child protection workforce.”
Mark Fontaine, Executive Director of the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association, said, “I applaud Governor Scott for his efforts in the proposed budget to provide additional resources to expand substance abuse treatment and recovery support services. This funding is critical to combat the devastating impact of the widespread opioid epidemic affecting individuals, families, and communities across our state.
Melanie Brown-Woofter, Interim President of the Florida Council for Community Mental Health, said, “Early intervention and treatment for mental illnesses is crucial in meeting the behavioral health needs of communities. Governor Scott’s budget reflects the need for these services, further demonstrating his commitment to Florida’s families.”
Kurt Kelly, CEO, Florida Coalition for Children said, “The Governor has put forth a budget that strives toward a brighter future for all Floridians. The agencies and individuals charged with caring for Florida’s children and youth look forward to working with the Governor and the Florida Legislature to ensure our system of care has what it needs to protect children and families in Florida.”
For more information on the Florida Department of Children and Families, visit www.MyFLFamilies.com.
Congratulations to Gerald Waters, who received Baptist Health Care’s Hollinger Award for Volunteer of the Year. Gerald is a member of FSFAPA’s Legislative Committee and the president of Santa Rosa County Kinship Care Foster Adoptive Parent Association and Santa Rosa County Foster Adoptive Parent Association.
The annual Hollinger Awards are named in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Pick and Alberta Hollinger, long-time generous supporters of Baptist Health Care who demonstrated an outstanding commitment to improving the quality of health care in Northwest Florida.
The awards are presented to individuals, families or organizations who have exhibited exceptional generosity and community leadership in Baptist Health Care’s service area (Northwest Florida). The Hollinger Awards are given for the following categories: Physician of the Year, Health Care Professional of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Women’s Board Volunteer of the Year and Lifetime Achievement award.
Nov. 2, 2017 Release from Governor’s Office
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced he will propose nearly $200 million for families who adopt children from foster care. This funding will continue critical post adoption services for more than 37,000 children. Since taking office, Governor Scott has championed investments for the adoption of more than 20,000 children from Florida’s child welfare and foster care systems. Over the past year, more than 3,600 children were adopted in Florida, the highest year for adoptions in eight years. This week, Governor Scott also proclaimed November as Florida Adoption Month.
Governor Scott said, “Every November, we take time to recognize the many families across the state who have opened their hearts and homes to adopt children in need. This Florida Adoption Month, I am proud to propose a nearly $200 million investment as part of my 2018-2019 recommended budget to support children adopted from foster care. Every child deserves a loving family and adoptive parents have a unique opportunity to help change a child’s life for the better. We are grateful to the families who have provided homes for the more than 20,000 children adopted from Florida’s child welfare and foster care systems over the past seven years and will continue to do all we can to encourage families to consider adoption.”
DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said, “Being adopted into safe homes with loving families changes the lives of children and also transforms the forever families they join. Continued support after adoption enables more families to open their hearts and homes to children who are available for adoption.”
More details on the Governor’s proposed budget will be made available in the coming weeks.
On Tuesday (Oct. 24, 2017) DCF redistributed to all of its regional offices a 2016 memo outlining the proper use of and legal requirements for child restraint seats when transporting children.
The memo can be seen/downloaded here.
The content of the memo follows:
SUBJECT: Use of Child Restraint Seats When Transporting Children
PURPOSE: The purpose of this memorandum is to provide information concerning the proper use of car seats for children transported by the Department of Children and Families and Community-Based Care Lead Agencies or their subcontracted case management organizations. Staff must follow Florida Statutes while transporting children. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics provides guidance on best practices for the safe transportation of children and can be a valuable resource.
BACKGROUND: In recent years, Florida has seen changes to the state’s laws regarding requirements for the use of car seats. Currently section 316.613, Florida Statutes, requires the following:
- Children 5 years of age and younger must be safely secured by the proper use of a crash-tested, federally approved child restraint device.
- Children birth through 3 years of age must be secured in a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat.
- Children 4 through 5 years of age must be secured in a separate carrier, an integrated child seat, or a child booster seat.
Though advisory in nature, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ car seat safety recommendations are listed below:
- Infants and toddlers should ride rear-facing until they are at least 2 years old.
- Young children should ride in car safety seats with a harness until at least age 4, including recommendations for children to ride in a. seat with a 5-point harness up to the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer.
- School-aged children should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until at least age 8 or until the seat belt fits correctly.
- Children should ride in the rear seat until age 13.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has an excellent resource page on its website for child and motor vehicle safety, which provides instruction on many child car seat safety-related areas as well as best practice guidelines, and can be found at the following link:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hosts a website that provides instruction on many child car seat safety-related areas, including choosing car seats and proper installation, as well as best practice guidelines. The website can be found at the following link:
Assistance and training on the proper installation of child safety seats is provided at many county health departments and law enforcement agencies throughout the state. The links below provide locations for those certified to inspect for the proper installationof child safety seats and to provide instruction on proper installation:
ACTION NEEDED: Please distribute this Informational Memo to both child protective investigators and Community-Based Care Lead Agency staff. Staff are responsible for ensuring the safety of children while transporting them and must follow all state laws regarding the transportation of children.
CONTACT INFORMATION: Should you have questions about this communication, please contact Amy Hand, Office of Child Welfare, at 850-717-4491, or via e-mail at email@example.com.DOC102317DOC102317