Partnership for Strong Families (PSF) has developed a cohesive approach to permanency for children in Circuits 3 and 8 using a family-centered and child-sensitive approach. In most dependency cases, the initial focus is on safely reunifying children with their biological parents and strengthening the family so that their children do not later come back into the child welfare system. PSF is promoting the “partnering” concept throughout our system to make the experience of children and families that are in need of assistance as natural and supportive as possible. In some cases, however, it does not prove possible to safely reunify children with their parents. In accordance with Florida Statutes, the preferred goal for such children is adoption.
At any given time, Circuits 3 and 8 typically have roughly one-hundred children freed for adoption, meaning that all legal ties to their biological parents have ceased. Also, at any given time approximately half of these children are awaiting permanent homes. Typically, certain children stand a likelihood of having to endure a longer wait for a family. These are older children (over the age of 8, and especially teens), sibling pairs and groups, and children who (often due to difficult experiences in their early lives) may present special behavioral and emotional needs.
The first step for an individual or couple interested in adopting is registering for Model Approach to Parenting (MAPP) classes. MAPP classes provide ten weeks of coursework to begin to equip an individual or couple with an understanding of the issues facing children in care, and to help them learn more about their readiness to adopt, and about tools that may be helpful should they proceed with the process. At times, weekend MAPP courses may be available as may be “Adoption Orientation” events, which are offered on a regular basis at Children’s Home Society. Families interested in adopting are also invited to attend meetings of the Mid-Florida Adoption Support Group to become acquainted with others who have adopted or are interested in adopting.
Upon completion of MAPP courses, an individual or couple is encouraged to turn in an entire adoption application packet, following which an adoption home study will be completed at no cost to the individual or family. In fact, should the individual or couple be matched to an available child, attorney fees for the adoption are also typically covered. Furthermore, an individual or couple who adopts a child from care will typically be eligible for adoption subsidy, a monthly stipend provided from the date of adoptive placement through the child’s 18th birthday to assist toward the family’s financial provisions for the child.
BECOMING A FOREVER FAMILY:
A family with a completed approved adoption home study will be eligible to adopt a child from within our circuits and beyond. Photos and descriptions of children presently freed for adoption throughout the state of Florida are found on the State Explore Adoption Website (www.AdoptFlorida.org) and Children’s Home Society’s website (www.chsfl.org.) Families that have completed MAPP and have approved home studies will be considered by PSF and Children’s Home Society for children currently available for adoption and becoming available for adoption. Also, families with approved adoption home studies may request that their home study be submitted for consideration by the agency involved with any child found on the above-referenced websites who remains available for adoption.