For Immediate Release: January 18, 2013
Contact: Erin Gillespie, Department of Children and Families, (850) 717-4450
Jennifer Diaz, Department of Environmental Protection, (850) 245-2112
DCF, DEP Partner to Give Thousands of Free State Park Passes to Foster Parents
Free passes will help 15,000 foster families enjoy time in Florida’s great outdoors
TALLAHASSEE—Thousands of children in foster care and their foster parents will be able to enjoy free visits to Florida’s beautiful state parks this year.
The Department of Environmental Protection joined with the Department of Children and Families to celebrate foster parents in 2013 by donating 15,000 state park passes.
“Florida’s 171 state parks and trails are pleased to partner with the Department of Children and Families and its community-based care agencies to celebrate and encourage Florida's foster families,” said Donald Forgione, Director of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Park Service. “Spending time in our beautiful environment and learning about nature is a great way to strengthen families and nurture our children in care.”
Foster parents change lives of children all over this state every single day. Currently, there are more than 7,500 children in foster care in Florida. They are removed from their homes through no fault of their own, but because they have been abused and neglected and are not able to safely remain with their families.
Last year, DCF created the “Fostering Florida’s Future” initiative aimed at better supporting, recruiting and retaining foster parents to help ensure the success of children in foster care. Part of the initiative is to provide educational success and normal activities to children in care so they can have the same experiences as any child.
“We want our children to experience the same opportunities as other children, including sports and outdoor activities,” said DCF Secretary David Wilkins. "We are so proud to partner with the Department of Environmental Protection, which recognized the importance of celebrating these families who open up their hearts and homes to our children.”