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Raising a Child Takes a Team

Your role as a foster parent is best described as an anchor. Foster parents provide the stability, structure and acceptance needed during what can be a scary and traumatic time for the children who enter the dependency system. In a period of chaos, you are the anchors our children hold onto until they find permanency, either by safely returning home or joining a new forever family.

There is no one more essential to our system of care than you, who have opened your homes and your hearts to children when they need you most. While there are many rewards to fostering, there are also challenges. Sometimes you need an anchor of your own… and Embrace Families, along with our community partners, are here to make sure you have the support you need to weather any storm.

In addition to monthly visits from the child’s case manager, a variety of supports are available to Central Florida foster parents, ranging from driver’s training to grief counseling. We are all part of the team caring for our community’s most vulnerable children. Our goal is to ensure that you always have somewhere to turn when you need answers and assistance.

Resources to Support Our Foster Parents

Monthly Stipend

The State of Florida provides licensed foster parents with a monthly maintenance stipend, which is designed to cover the cost of providing food, clothing, shelter, daily supervision, school supplies, a child’s personal incidentals, liability insurance with respect to a child, reasonable travel to the child’s home for visitation, and reasonable travel for the child to remain in the school in which the child is enrolled at the time of placement. Paid by Embrace Families on the last Wednesday of each month, the daily standard board rate is $19 per child.

Clothing Allowance

Embrace Families provides an annual school clothing allowance for all children in a licensed placement who have been in care for at least 30 days. After the annual clothing allowance is issued, if the child needs clothes, the case manager may access funding through the funding authorization request form, a procedure coordinated through the Embrace Families Utilization Management Department.

Medicaid Plan

Children involved in Florida’s child welfare system are eligible for Medicaid that covers the child’s health expenses. Embrace Families employs Nurse Care and Behavioral Health Coordinators, who are available to assist with coordination of medical, dental and behavioral health care for children and teens involved in child welfare.

For More Information

Nurse Care Coordinators

One Hope United / Children’s Home Society – Seminole – Sabrina Beharie – sabrina.beharie@embracefamilies.org

Children’s Home Society – Orange & Gulf Coast – Gladys Perez – gladys.perez@embracefamilies.org

Behavioral Health Coordinators

Children’s Home Society – Seminole – Justin Colson, MA – justin.colson@embracefamilies.org

One Hope United – Orange – Ashley Foster, MSW – ashley.foster@embracefamilies.org

Children’s Home Society – Orange – Valencia Jordan, MA – valencia.jordan@embracefamilies.org

Gulf Coast-Osceola – Amber Smith, LMHC – amber.smith@embracefamilies.org

Post-Adoptions/Diversion – Orange, Osceola & Seminole – Julia Eusebio, MSW – julia.eusebio@embracefamilies.org

College Tuition Waiver

Many teens and young adults in foster care are eligible for a tuition waiver to any college in the state of Florida that accepts Bright Futures. Restrictions and qualifying standards apply. For information, please email Embrace Families’ Education Manager at youthservices@embracefamilies.org.

Driver’s Permit/License

Many teens and young adults involved in child welfare are eligible for assistance in obtaining their driver’s permit/license and insurance coverage. Restrictions and qualifying standards apply. For information: call 321-441-2060 or visit www.k2i.us

Foster Parent Associations

Two local associations of foster and adoptive parents operate in the Central Florida Region. These groups meet monthly to provide guidance and emotional support, ongoing training, respite, or sometimes just an empathetic ear. For more information:

Orange/Seminole County Foster Children’s Association

Osceola County Foster Children’s Association

Foster Faces Facebook Group

Foster Faces is a safe space exclusively for licensed Central Florida Foster Parents. Members of this private Facebook group can find support, connect with other families and stay informed. Click here if you are interested in being a part of this community. Once you find us, please read the group’s rules and send a request to join.

Trainings

There are many resources available to help refine and learn new parenting skills. Ask your Caregiver Support Manager about trainings available through Embrace Families. NOTE: Your Caregiver Support Agency is one of the following: Children’s Home Network (CHN), Children’s Home Society (CHS), Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services, or One Hope United (OHU).

Placement Support Staffing (PSS)

Parents interested in scheduling a meeting to discuss a child’s behavioral issues, conflicts with case management, or any other issue, should start by contacting the Caregiver Support Manager assigned to support your foster home. The Caregiver Support specialist will engage those involved – including case managers, therapists, Embrace Families’, and others – to schedule a time to work together to resolve the issue. NOTE: Your Caregiver Support Agency is one of the following: Children’s Home Network (CHN), Children’s Home Society (CHS), Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services, or One Hope United (OHU).

Grief Counseling

Along with the many rewards that come with fostering, it often hurts when a child you have cared for and loved leaves your home. Grief counseling services are available through Embrace Families to provide support as children transition from your home. To connect to this free-of-charge counseling service, start by contacting the Caregiver Support Agency assigned to support your foster home. Or, if confidential access is preferred, reach out directly to our counseling provider, Community Counseling Center of Central Florida, at 407.947.2901 or Corrie.KindylPhD@ccccf.org.NOTE: Your Caregiver Support Agency is one of the following: Children’s Home Network (CHN), Children’s Home Society (CHS), Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services, or One Hope United (OHU).

“211” Mobile Crisis Unit (Orange, Osceola and Seminole)

Devereux provides mobile crisis response, available 24/7/365 to help address health or behavioral emergencies involving children and young adults up to age 24 in our community. This free service is available simply by dialing 2-1-1. Help can be requested by anyone with the individual at the time of the crisis – parents, caregivers, family members, school personnel, first responders, etc. The response team arrives within an hour or less. Services include evaluation and assessment, development of safety or crisis plans, providing or facilitating stabilization services, supportive crisis counseling, education, development of coping skills, and linkage to appropriate resources. Visit the 2-1-1 website for more information. Please contact 911 in the event of a true medical emergency.

Our emotional support teams are available to you throughout this journey, so you can focus on meeting the emotional and physical needs of the children in your home. This specialized group of Embrace Families’ providers are dedicated to addressing the unique concerns of caregivers, and to assist you in navigating the complex system of care. While our emotional support services are completely voluntary, they are here to help when you need guidance from someone who has walked in your shoes. To find out more, contact one of the following:

Children’s Home Network

Children’s Home Network (CHN) is dedicated to improving lives and changing life stories. We unlock the potential of at-risk children and families by providing compassionate and effective services that create opportunities for success. CHN is fully committed to supporting children in permanent, family arrangements. The philosophy that permeates throughout the organization is that every child is lovable, capable and worthwhile. It is the job of the staff to help offer support that allows families to love and care for children and for children to thrive in a stable home. CHN believes  that caregivers are caregivers, regardless if they are foster parents, biological parents or relative caregivers. Despite their unique features, they all need similar support and interventions to raise healthy and happy children.

Visit: www.childrenshomenetwork.org

Contact: Nikki Ludwig, support@childrenshomenetwork.org, 407.264.1727

Commission 127

Commission 127 offers family-focused emotional support through care communities providing meals, date nights, prayer, and regular check-ins to best care for the unique needs of your family. Also offered are regularly planned peer support groups, play dates, family gatherings, and practical trainings to strengthen parents and families, including support for singles and marriages. Whether a foster, adoptive, relative or bio family, our heart is to make sure you don’t feel alone in this journey.

Visit: www.c127.org

Contact: Betsey Bell, MSW, bbell@c127.org, 407.619.4047

FACT, Inc.

Upcoming FACT Events

FACT was founded by foster/adoptive/ kinship/non-relative caregivers who have decades of combined experience within the foster care system. Our main goal over the last 15 years has been to support and serve caregivers who care for our community’s children.

We understand, firsthand, the challenges and changes that come with the responsibility of caring for our children. Between our four family advocates, we have parented 37 permanent children of all ages. Our experience navigating through their trauma allows us to assist other families navigate needs that they are unable to anticipate. FACT family advocates continuously seek ways to ensure our families’ and children’s needs are met. We host events, trainings, lend a listening ear when needed, and offer guidance to parents who need help. Our team is quick to respond and find creative ways to solve issues or fulfill needs that pop up. We try to stay one step ahead in order to keep our families feeling supported and plugged in; and we enjoy doing it because it’s our passion.

Visit: www.facthelp.org

Contact: Jerry Pitzer, contactus@facthelp.org, 407.233.3288

One More Child

Upcoming One More Child Events

Caring for children is the adventure of a lifetime! We know that meeting the needs of children and teens going through tough times, working toward the goal of reunification with families, or being a newly reunified parent has challenges – and One More Child is ready to help!

At One More Child we have church and community partners walking alongside caregivers of all types to provide resources such as groceries, meals, household items, clothing, diapers, services like behavioral coaching, and resource location;
as well as household services such as mowing and laundry,
babysitting, prayer, encouragement and more.

Statewide in 2019, our Foster Care Program managed close to 600 foster homes in 52 of the 67 counties in Florida and made a transformative difference in the lives of more than 1,400 foster children.

Visit: www.onemorechild.org/centralfloridacaregivercrew

Contact: Colleen Riddle, caregiveremotionalsupport@onemorechild.org, 407.506.3126

What Teens Need

As parents we are very much aware that, as our children grow, so does the complexity of their needs.

For adolescents and teenagers, there is nothing more important than being surrounded by committed adults who understand where they are in life and who refuse to give up on them. For teens in foster care, many of whom have experienced childhood trauma and are without the safety net of a traditional family, this need is magnified.

Too often our teens in foster care are not getting the stability they need. And too often our teen caregivers are left on their own to navigate the complexities of caring for a young person who is wrestling with the impacts of adverse childhood experiences along with the many insecurities and heightened emotions so common at this age.

We must do more to ensure their success.

About TeenEmbrace

Embrace Families’ TeenEmbrace is a program designed with the needs of our teen caregivers in mind.

Like a big, trusty umbrella, this array of services provides an extra level of support and coverage to homes caring for children ages 11 to 17. The program is designed to wrap teens in foster care — and their caregivers — with the resources and support they need to increase stability of family placements and to enhance the well-being of the entire family.

Your Transitional Support Team

Transitional Support Specialists (TSS) provide an added layer of support for our older kids and their caregivers.

The TSS manager is another caring adult prepared to do what it takes to help each child succeed. Their role includes direct connection with the teen to help facilitate youth transition meetings, coordinate personal documentation, provide access to educational resources and work experience, and much more.

The TSS manager also is an invaluable asset to your home. They serve as a specialized resource for understanding the unique needs of the teenager in your care, navigating the often complex child welfare system, and serving as a sounding board for inevitable questions and concerns that those raising teens encounter.


Resources for our Teen Caregivers

CORE Teen Training
Training – Award-winning curriculum for prospective and current parents who are, or will be, raising older children from foster care who have moderate to severe emotional and behavioral challenges.

Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Training
Training – Flagship CPI training focuses on de-escalation techniques, risk assessment, and both nonrestrictive and restrictive interventions.

Caregiver Respite
Self-time – Experienced group of back up caregivers with specialized training and expertise working with teens.


Resources for our Teens; Support for their Caregivers

Intervention & Treatment Program
Therapeutic Intervention – 24/7 response. Dedicated therapist involvement starts with youth, but includes support for entire household. Therapist actively involved in team working to stabilize placement.

DJJ Involvement
System Navigation – Specialist to support households/youth in the Juvenile Justice System. Attends court hearings, in touch with probation officer, assists with community service, resource to caregivers.

Mentoring
Life Skill Support – Additional positive role model, helps prepare youth for adulthood by teaching life skills and building healthy attachments.


Programs for our Teens; Support for their Caregivers

Keys to Independence
Skill Enhancement – Helps teens in foster care earn their permit and license. Provides driver training and insurance coverage.

Cars for Kids
Financial Assistance – Helps teens in foster care qualify for car loan at affordable rates.

High School High Tech
Career Exploration – Visits to work sites and academic programs to prepare teens for careers in high-demand industries.

First Star UCF Academy
College Prep – Year-round, multi-year educational support program with on-campus live/work experience.

CareerBuilder
Work Experience – Paid Summer Apprenticeship Program

Breaks for Teens
Travel Experience – School Break Adventures and Field Trips

Tutoring
Educational Attainment – Educational coaching dedicated to achieving grade-level attainment and graduation.

Youth Advisory Board
Peer Support – Monthly gathering of peers offers engagement, leadership, advocacy, skill development and self-determination.