By Makenzie Atkins
Hillsborough County is in need of new foster families, as the number of children being pulled from homes is increasing.
The most common way children in abusive families are noticed is through teachers. With most students being home last year due to COVID-19, the number of families reported for abuse went down. As children are being sent back to school, the numbers have risen again.
Beth Gray, a foster mom in Valrico, told us that being a foster parent is one of the greatest things you can do. Even though they were nervous, Beth and her husband decided to register as a foster family after doing research and preparing their family.
“Fostering has been something I have wanted to do for a long time,” said Gray, “but it’s so out of my comfort zone I never really thought it would happen.”
According to the West Florida Foster Care Services (WFFCS), there are five steps to becoming a foster parent. These steps include starting the conversation, registering for orientation, registering for professional parent training, being assigned to a license specialist and placement of children.
With foster care being a temporary situation for children, most are not eligible for adoption. In fact, according to WFFCS, 80 percent of all foster care children are reunited with their biological families.
“The main goal of foster care is reunification and working with the parents to co-parent is truly what is best for these children,” said Gray.
If you cannot be a foster family, there are still plenty of ways to get involved. West Florida Foster Care Services has opportunities to donate online. One fun way to help is to purchase a ‘Buy One, Gift One T-Shirt’ that sends one T-shirt to a foster parent for each shirt you purchase. You can also donate to ‘Feed a Foster Family,’ this money is used to order a family dinner from a local restaurant. Along with these options, you can also donate any amount of money right through the website.
West Florida Foster Care Services has two locations where you can drop off clothes, shoes, diapers and more. These locations are at Temple Terrance United Methodist Church in Temple Terrance and South Tampa Fellowship Church on Davis Island. You can check the ‘current donations needed’ list on the WFFCS website.