Partnership for Strong Families is the lead agency for community-based care in Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor and Union counties. PSF is charged with management of the organization, enhancement, coordination and oversight of out-of-home care and related services to ensure the safety, well-being and security of its children and families.
In Florida each year, there are 18,000 to 20,000 children who are not able to live at home or sleep in their own beds. An adult in their family abused or neglected them. It is no longer safe to live at home. These children are newborns. They are middle-school-aged. They are teenagers. They are all races and nationalities. A few have serious medical problems and handicaps - most have hidden wounds on their souls.
Where do these children go when they can no longer remain safely in their homes?
If there are no relatives able to care for them, then they are placed with a foster family, or a partner family, as we call them. Partner families are special people — they possess the gift of being able to open their hearts and homes to children in need of safety, love and nurturing, and, when the time is right, to let them go again. What sets partner families apart is their ability to love a child like one of their own, regardless of whether the child lives with them for a month or for more than a year.
Partner families have the challenging task of providing an atmosphere that helps a child heal and prepare to go back home, if possible, or on to a new permanent home. Partner families are a vital resource for these children as they wait in limbo, between a past that was painful and a future that's uncertain.