Foster homes, and the parents who provide a safe and nurturing environment for kids in foster care, are in desperate short supply. More than 3,500 children and teens have been removed from their biological parents due to abuse or neglect in Hillsborough County. And there are just not enough foster parents to provide a temporary and loving home.

Families First of Florida trains and licenses therapeutic foster parents in Hillsborough County. The organization also provides mental and behavioral health assessments and treatment both in-home and among its seven locations.

“We are trying to provide a solution to the crisis in our community by engaging more families to step forward and help provide a loving home to these kids,” said Carolanne Patriaco, CEO of Families First of Florida. “Especially the teens, they just need to be part of a family and know someone cares and supports them.”

Foster parents are single, married, with partners, working full-time, retired and empty nesters. The commonality is the need and passion to help kids. There is a specific need for foster parents to care for teens and who speak Spanish.

In partnership with Families First of Florida, therapeutic foster parents receive on-going training, clinical services, a monthly stipend to support each child’s expenses, paid respite, and 24/7 availability of a clinician when needed.

Love kids and have an extra dose of patience? Foster parents are at least 21 years of age, can demonstrate stable housing and income and pass a background check.
Prospective foster parents attend an orientation, 24 hours of Professional Parenting Training, and then 30 hours of Therapeutic Foster Parent Training.

The next Foster Parent Orientation is Monday, March 5 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, located at 1002 E. Palm Ave., in Tampa. Please call 290-8560 for more information and register for the orientation or visit FamiliesFirstFL.com.