Panama City -- Florida is making changes to foster parent recruitment. Officials are launching a new marketing campaign to attract potential candidates.
With the Department of Children and Families removing more than 160 Bay County children from their homes in 2011, there are not enough foster parents to meet the demand.
Although there is a demand for foster parents statewide, Bay County ranks among the highest.
“The highest need is in Bay County, in fact, Bay County has one of the highest removal rates in the state of Florida” said Kristine Kwiatkowski, Foster Parent Recruiter and Retention Specialist.
52% of those children were 5 years old or younger. 48% were between the ages of 6 and 17 years old. The toughest children to place are siblings and teenagers. Experts say it is extremely important to keep the foster kids in their community, without interrupting their education.
“In the state of Florida, we have a 50% graduation rate of foster children and that’s simply not good enough. One of the main contributing factors to that is multiple moves within a school year said Kwiatkowski.
There are currently 42 foster homes throughout Bay County. One of those homes belongs to the Lacewell residence, who have been very active in fostering children. Kirk Lacewell and his wife Micky, recently adopted 16 month old, Jessica. As foster parents, they say you are never left to fend for yourself, and the payoff is rewarding.
“It’s a team project. You’re not on your own, they just don’t bring you a baby and walk away, they check in on you, they’re available all the time” said Kirk Lacewell, foster parent.
There is a free course prospective foster parents are required to complete in order to become licensed foster parents in Florida. For more information on the course and other pertinent information to fostering children, you can contact the Life Management Center.
By calling their toll free number: 1-866-769-9481 and visit their website at: www.lmccares.org