All children who enter the child welfare system in Hillsborough County have suffered from trauma – some form of abuse, neglect, or abandonment by a parent. When children cannot safely remain in their homes, they are placed with relatives, family friends, or foster parents. Foster parents play a vital role in helping children heal by providing a loving refuge when they need it most.
In Hillsborough County, approximately 1,200 children live in licensed foster homes. Children in foster care range from newborn to age eighteen. They have all suffered in ways most adults can scarcely understand. These children live in our communities, come from diverse backgrounds, and are often part of a group of siblings. They may have emotional, behavioral, or health challenges. But most of all, foster kids are kids who need love and care like any child.
A child’s stay in foster care may be as short as overnight or as long as it takes to achieve a permanent plan for the child. The first and primary goal is always to reunite the family when it is safe to do so. Laws state that children should remain in foster care no longer than one year unless the courts determine extenuating circumstances. Foster parents can truly make a difference for a lifetime in a relatively short time.