A Call to Action: Community Needs More Foster Parents, Mentors to Care for Teens, Sibling Groups

January 30, 2013

John Harrell
Northeast Region Communications
(904) 723-5470/(904) 233-7792

DCF’s Top Official To Speak At Event, Will Be Joined By Former Foster Teens, Current Foster Parents, Others

JACKSONVILLE- There is an urgent local need for high-quality foster parents and mentors to help teenagers and sibling groups. To highlight this need, community leaders are joining together with Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins on the day after the Super Bowl to kick off increased efforts to find foster parents and mentors in the Jacksonville area. The "Building An All-Pro Team of Foster Parents" news conference will be held on February 4 at 1 p.m. at EverBank Field, home stadium for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“There are about 475 children in foster homes in Jacksonville. These children were placed in foster homes through no fault of their own. They needed to be removed from their homes for their own safety, because they had been victims of serious abuse and neglect," said DCF's Northeast Region Director David Abramowitz. “But they also need to have nurturing foster parents who can help guide them, mentor them and put them on a path to a better adulthood. This event will help encourage people in our community to consider becoming foster parents and mentors. By doing this, they will leave legacies of helping these children have better lives now and in the future.”

Secretary David Wilkins and his wife Tanya, the statewide Advocate for Foster Care and Adoption, will be speaking at the event. Monday’s kickoff news conference will also include the following:

  • Two young adults who were once teenagers in the foster care system will talk about the importance of good foster parents and how their foster parents helped them.
  • Current foster parents will talk about why they foster children, as well as and the emotional rewards that come with helping children and teenagers in need of guidance.
  • Local faith-based leaders and community leaders at the event will be encouraged to support the need for foster parents by inviting representatives from DCF and our community-based care partner, Family Support Services of North Florida, to come to their churches and businesses to encourage people to consider becoming foster parents.

DCF and its community-based care partners, including Family Support Services of North Florida, have improved the training process for prospective foster parents in order to better prepare them for having foster children in their homes. People who aren’t ready to be foster parents can still support fostering. Other ways include mentoring, providing free services to children in foster care, providing scholarships for camps or other events, or becoming a Guardian ad Litem, a court-appointed advocate for children. For more information on how you can support the children and families in our community, please visit www.flpartnersforpromise.com.

Monday’s news conference is one of several statewide events that are part of the “Fostering Florida’s Future” initiative by DCF and our community partners. The initiative aims to increase the number of quality foster homes in Florida and ensure our children have every chance at becoming successful adults. For more information on fostering in Florida, please visit www.fosteringflorida.com.