foster care

A series of bills about the foster care system is moving through the Florida Legislature.

Rebekka Behr is focused on the Foster Youth Bill of Rights, which she says will take “all the rights that are already in law and (place) them into one document so that it makes it easier for youth to understand what their rights are as well as those in their case plan.”

It’s important for Behr, who aged out of Florida’s foster care system. She’s now 21-years-old and serves as the fundraising chair for Florida Youth Shine (FYS), a youth-led advocacy group working to improve the child welfare system.

Lawsuit Targets State On Medicaid Reviews

Aug 9, 2019
Courtroom bench
Wikimedia Commons

A potential class-action lawsuit filed this week alleges Florida did not properly determine whether Medicaid beneficiaries could continue qualifying for coverage after initially losing eligibility for the health-care program. 

Jordan Belliveau would have celebrated his third birthday on Monday.

Instead, the toddler died in September. He was just two when police say his mother, Charisse Stinson, struck him in the face, causing him to slam into a wall and injure his brain.

An analysis of state child welfare records shows that thousands of foster children in Florida have led transient lives, staying just a few nights in one place before being moved to another family or group home.

Florida’s foster kid population is growing at an alarming rate. That’s part of what will be discussed during an upcoming webinar.

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Thousands of children in foster care may be getting powerful psychiatric drugs prescribed to them without basic safeguards, according to a federal watchdog's investigation that finds a failure to care for youngsters whose lives have already been disrupted.

For most of her childhood, growing up in southeastern Pennsylvania, Kelly Zimmerman felt alone and anxious.

She despaired when her mother was depressed or working late shifts; when her parents fought nonstop; when her friends wanted to come over, and she felt too ashamed to let them see her home's buckling floor, the lack of running water.

Kelly tried to shut out those feelings, and when she was 18, a boyfriend offered her an opioid painkiller — Percocet.

Her anxiety dissolved, at least for a little while.

The opioid epidemic has become so severe it’s considered a national public health emergency, and a recent report suggests it could be linked to a higher rate of children in foster homes.

A number of child welfare bills are continuing to move in the Florida Legislature.

The Florida Legislature didn’t waste a moment during its first week when it came to addressing the opioid addiction crisis that is exploding across the state.

A new government report says the number of children in the U.S. foster care system has increased for the fourth year in a row, due largely to an uptick in substance abuse by parents.

The report, issued annually by the Administration for Children and Families of the Department of Health and Human Services, shows that 437,500 children were in foster care by the end of fiscal year 2016. A year earlier the number was 427,400.

There's been a spike in the number of kids being removed from their homes in the Tampa Bay Area over the past few years. And foster care agencies are struggling to keep up with the influx.

Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

As Health News Florida reported last week, the opioid crisis in Manatee and Sarasota Counties is putting a strain on their foster care system. But the situation isn't entirely bleak. Now we'll hear from one mother whose relationship with her son's foster parents helped her reunify her family and overcome her addiction.

Manatee and Sarasota Counties have seen overdose deaths from drugs like heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil spike in the past few years. At the same time, the number of children being removed from their homes and placed into the area’s foster care system has skyrocketed. There’s a connection between the increases.

A preliminary hearing was held Thursday in the case of Naika Venant, the 14-year-old girl who broadcast her suicide on Facebook Live  from her Miami Gardens foster home earlier this year. It was the second suicide of a teenager in foster care overseen by the agency Our Kids in less than 60 days.

A bill further compensating a surviving child of an abusive adoptive home is starting to move in the Florida Senate.

More children are coming into Florida's foster-care system after a sweeping child-welfare reform law went into effect 19 months ago, but officials say the state is trying to focus on what's best for kids in difficult situations.

"You write laws to respond to the issues of the day, and those change at least annually," said state Sen. Nancy Detert, a Venice Republican and sponsor of a number of foster-care reforms. "So our focus in today's world is the best interests of the child in every way — safety, quality of life, the best location — and that's all we can do."

Senate Bill Would Overhaul Foster-Care Placements

Oct 28, 2015
Florida Senate

A bill aimed at reducing instability for foster children has started to move forward in the Florida Senate and would require the child-welfare system to match kids with their best placement options --- rather than, as critics charge, the first beds that are handy.

Governor Rick Scott recently signed bills aimed at changing Florida’s guardianship laws. One relates to helping the exploited elderly and another aims to help developmentally disabled kids aging out of Florida’s foster care system.

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A new study shows that 13 percent of Florida's 18,000 foster youth are living in group homes instead of with a family.

A national report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation revealed 57,000 of the 400,000 foster children in the U.S. live in group placements. Colorado had the highest number at 35 percent.

These placements have been shown to be harmful to a child's opportunities to develop strong, nurturing attachments. Those who grow up in group placements are also at greater risk of being abused and being arrested.

Lawmakers Tweak Extended Foster Care Law

Apr 14, 2015
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  Lawmakers are working on changes to a two-year-old law that extended foster care in Florida from ages 18 to 21 and sought to give kids more time to prepare for independence.

Hailed as groundbreaking --- in fact, it was named the "Nancy C. Detert Common Sense and Compassion Independent Living Act" for its Senate sponsor --- the law is likely to get a tweak this session.

Department of Children and Families

State child welfare officials have recruited more than 600 news foster homes.

 The increase comes after lawmakers passed a measure in 2013 aimed at improving the quality of people recruited to become foster parents and help retaining them. The program also works to improve child safety and permanency for foster children.

Approximately 10,000 children are in foster placements throughout the state.

Foster Care Fix Requested for Disabled

Jan 12, 2015
Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilties Director Barbara Palmer
Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities

It's been two years since Florida's Legislature passed a law extending foster care from age 18 to 21, for youth aging out of the system who want to stay. But the law has had some unintended consequences.

Children's advocates say extended foster care has been a success for young adults who need more time to complete school due to bureaucratic delays. 

But for those who also have disabilities have run into problems: specifically it's unclear which state agency pays for which services -- the Department of Children and Families or the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

DCF Adds 1,500 New Foster Homes

Jul 15, 2014

The Florida Department of Children and Families has licensed nearly 1,500 new foster-care homes in the last year, trying to find families for the 10,000 children in state care.

There is a constant need for new foster parents, as others who used to do the job end up adopting their foster kids, burning out or having other changes in their lives.

DCF Child Welfare Services Manager Kristi Putnam says a good foster family helps bring stability to children who have lost their homes through no fault of their own. She also says there are no set criteria for being a foster parent.

Florida has been granted a long-term waiver on how it uses federal money for at-risk children. The five-year waiver from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides flexibility with Title IV-E funds designed for children in foster care, according to the Miami Herald.

The New Year triggered a series of new health-related laws in Florida, including a federal law that encourages schools to stock EpiPens to treat allergic reactions.

Submitted to the Ocala Star-Banner

Had she lived, Yvonne Bailey would be celebrating her second birthday this week.  As the Ocala Star-Banner reports, Yvonne had been taken from her father, who was caring for her when her arm was burned in a home meth lab. After spending some time in foster care, she eventually ended up in the home of a man who was never supposed to be her caretaker.

Ten years ago, children were slipping through the cracks of Florida’s state-run foster care system resulting in child abuse episodes that gained national attention. In an effort to fix the failing model,  the state turned over foster care and adoption services to private agencies.

A bill that would put at least one armed person at public schools passed with bipartisan support in a House committee, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Schools would have to hire an armed guard unless the principal designated an employee with a concealed weapons permit to bring a gun on campus. A similar measure has stalled in the Senate.  In other legislative news: