Opening your heart
and home to a child in need is one of the most selfless acts that can change the course of a child’s life.
Become a Foster Parent.
All children deserve the love and care of responsible adults in a safe and caring environment. LSF offers foster parent licensing in Lee County.
What is the difference between foster parenting and adoption?
Foster care is a temporary placement of a child in a home while reunification or alternative permanent solution is found for the child. Adoption is a lifetime commitment to care for the child.
We need you!
Finding new foster homes and recruiting new parents willing to care for a child in need is in short supply. We need you! Becoming a foster parent can be one of the most rewarding experiences for a family. It is a mutual selection process by which the family and the LSF Licensing Unit work together to assess each family’s strengths and needs to determine if the foster care program is a suitable match for both the family and the agency. We work to recruit; we offer case management and licensure for new foster parents. Varies by location. Read on to learn more!
The process of fostering requires training, applications, licensure, and guidance. You will have the opportunity to take a deep look at your family and yourself to determine if this is the right path for you and your family. Getting information is just the beginning, and you never have to feel pressure to continue if at any point you decide it simply does not work for you and your family. Case managers and experts in this process will guide you through every step. At the end of the process, foster parents will be ready to take on the responsibility and rewards of caring for a child who needs it.
The child welfare case management program in Lee county will take a look at you and your family as a “case,” and the case manager will oversee the entire process and help you get licensed.
Here is the basic description of the process:
- Speak to us: Fill out the form above and someone on our staff will contact you and answer all your questions.
- Training: We regularly conduct scheduled orientations. They are centered on something called: Parent Resources Information Development Education (PRIDE). This training helps LSF identify potential foster parents. It is a 30-hour Pre-Service Parenting Program that takes place once a week in 3-hour sessions. Full schedule listed below
- Licensing and Home Studies: We conduct home studies, background checks, home visits, and inspections to license interested families as eligible foster homes properly.
- Relicensing: Once you become a foster parent, you need to get relicensed. We offer the licensing process again at least 60 days prior to the expiration of a foster home’s license.
- Retention: We provide support activities and resources to current families to ensure they are satisfied and happy with their fostering experience.
You must complete the PRIDE training. You and the members of your household must also comply with the following qualifications:
- All household members must pass an extensive criminal background screening
- The home must pass an environmental health inspection
- The home must be safe and have adequate space for additional children to reside.
- The family must be financially stable and capable of providing for additional children.
- The family must have reliable and safe transportation.
- For families with children living in the home, references provided must include a personal, professional, neighbor, family, and school
- A licensing counselor will complete a home study, an in-depth assessment of the family
- The process from the time of the inquiry until a family receives a license is different depending on the circumstances but averages 3-5 months.
Orientation: January 4th
Class Dates: 1/4 – 2/15
Orientation: January 30th
Class Dates: 2/6-2/22
Orientation: February 29th
Class Dates: 3/7-4/11
All open houses are from 6pm-7:30pm. PRIDE classes start a week after open house. All classes are from 6pm-9pm. Currently all training classes are being conducted virtually.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for an informational packet and schedule of classes in your area.
How to Get Started
- Call 1 (855) 933-KIDS (5437) and request to become a foster parent through LSF
- If you are ready for the committment, then you must complete a 30 Hour Pre-Service Parenting Program (once a week, 3 hours) called PRIDE
- All household members must pass an extensive criminal background screening
- The home must pass an environmental health inspection
- The home must be safe and have adequate space for additional children to reside
- The family must be financially stable and capable of providing for additional children
- The family must have reliable and safe transportation
- References provided must include: personal, professional, neighbor, family and school (for families with children living in the home)
- A licensing counselor will complete and in-depth assessment of the family called a “home study”
The process from the time of the inquiry until a family receives a license is different depending on the circumstances but averages 3-5 months. If you are interested in learning more about the process, please call 1 (855) 933-KIDS (5437) and request to become a foster parent through LSF or email email@example.com for an informational packet and schedule of classes in your area.
Are you interested in becoming a Foster Parent or Adopting?
Leave us your information and a member of our team will reach out to you with more information.
All of the children in the child welfare system have suffered from trauma-some form of abuse, neglect or abandonment by a parent. Approximately half of these children remain in their homes under our careful supervision and the other half were unable to safely remain in their homes and were removed (by the Department of Children and Families) and placed with either relatives, family friends or in foster homes. In South West Florida, including Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades Counties, there are approximately 500 children living in licensed foster homes.
Children in foster care range from newborn to age eighteen. They have all suffered through traumatic loss. These children live in your communities and come from diverse backgrounds. Whenever possible, we attempt to place them to live with their own relatives or family friends; when that is not possible, the children are placed with a foster family.
Foster families provide abused children a temporary, safe place to live until they can be reunited with their birth families or, when that is not possible, and the courts have terminated their parent’s rights, until an adoptive family is identified. The goal is for all children to have a permanent home within one year of coming into the child welfare system (varies according to each case).
The love, attention and support foster families provide serve as a foundation for a secure and successful life for thousands of children in Florida, at a time when they need it most.
- All foster children have suffered from trauma from abuse, neglect or abandonment
- Many of the children exhibit challenging behaviors
- Many of children in care are part of sibling groups
- The children may have emotional problems
- The children are from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds
- Some will have special medical problems
- Others may present with developmental or physical disabilities
- The children range from newborn to 18 years old
- Foster families are people who enjoy parenting and who are willing to share their homes, time, energy, and love with children who have special needs because of abuse or neglect. In Florida, you may be eligible for foster parenting if you:
- Are single, married, divorced, or widowed
- At least 21 years of age
- Consent to criminal and child abuse registry checks
- Are financially able to provide for your present needs and family emergencies
- Permit a health inspection of your home
- Have enough physical space in your home to accommodate children
- Attend required training sessions
- Are willing to meet with a licensing counselor through the Home Study process to determine if fostering is appropriate for you and your family
- Have a willingness to work in partnership with everyone involved in the child’s life to meet his/her needs
- Are dedicated to helping a child be reunified with his/her biological family or if that is not possible, with an identified adoptive family
When a judge decides that a child has been a victim of abuse, neglect, abandonment, or death in a family, the courts decide that child must be temporarily separated from their families. If there is no willing relative, these children must then be placed in a foster home.
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. There are laws have dictated that a child’s stay in foster care be no longer than one year, unless there are extenuating circumstances determined by the courts.
Yes. Working families can be licensed as foster parents. Each child’s needs must be evaluated individually. Some children will require a full-time stay-at-home parent. Usually these are children who have therapeutic or medical challenges.
Yes. Foster families receive a stipend to help with the expenses while a child is in their home. The amount of the monthly board payment is determined by the age of the child. If a child is in a specialized foster home for medical or therapeutic needs, the compensation is higher, as their needs are greater. Children have medical, dental, and vision coverage while in foster care through Medicaid. Foster parents are also eligible for mileage reimbursement when transporting children to medical appointments and foster care activities.
Foster families can expect many rewards:
- A sense of accomplishment
- The chance to help children feel good about themselves
- Pride in doing a meaningful and important job
- Challenging experiences
- The opportunity to meet and work with new people
- A chance to use special talents and knowledge
- The opportunity to make a lifetime of difference in a short time
If you would like to make a difference in the life of a child, please call 1 (855) 933-KIDS (5437) and request to become a foster parent through LSF
Help us reach potential foster parents!
Did you know Lutheran Services Florida has been serving abused and neglected children in Fort Myers since 2004? We need your help to reach potential foster parents in your church and throughout our community. Please download any of the following material to use in church bulletins, newsletters and on your social media channels. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you can’t find what you are looking for to help promote our need.
- We have been called upon by a Florida based non-profit organization, Lutheran Services Florida, to help aid some of the children in our community. There are children in the Fort Meyers area in need of homes. They need temporary placement because they cannot safely remain with their biological families. We are asking you to discuss with your families and determine if you may be able to become a foster parent. LSF recruits, trains, certifies, and supports foster families, making it as accessible as possible. If this feels a journey you would like to embark upon, please reach out to email@example.com.
- Are you looking for more ways to better serve your community? Are kids and their wellbeing and safety of great importance to you? We have a big opportunity for you. We are partnering with Lutheran Services Florida to help find loving homes for foster children. As a member of our congregation, we think you have the heart to take on these children in need. If you are interested in learning more about a temporary placement foster child joining your family, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
- We need you! In the Fort Meyers area, we are experiencing a shortage of foster parents. We have been reached out to from a Florida based non-profit, Lutheran Services Florida, and they have asked us to help find loving homes for these children in need to spend some time in. This is a temporary placement and allows the children to thrive in a different home, avoiding any unsafe family situations. Please consider this calling and determine if you have the space in your home and in your heart to bring a foster child into your life. We hope you will help bring God’s healing, help, and hope to a child in need. Contact email@example.com for more details on this opportunity.
*The LSF Child Welfare Case Management program is funded by the Florida Department of Children and Families through the Children’s Network of Southwest Florida in Lee County.
Hate to wait? Try waiting for something big, like parents. I want a mom to listen to me. I hope I’ll get a dad who will take me to ball games. A dog would really be nice too. I want parents to take care of me. I want a mom and dad who will be there forever. Becoming foster parents. Maybe it’s what you’ve been waiting for too.
Lutheran Services Florida is a statewide nonprofit organization providing a variety of social service programs touching 1 out of 50 Floridians each year, bringing them healing, hope and help. Specifically in Fort Myers, LSF seeks out foster families for the thousands of children in foster care. LSF recruits, trains, certifies and supports foster families in and near Lee County.
Designed as a temporary placement for children who cannot safely remain with their biological families, foster care provides a necessary and, at times, lifesaving intervention to children who have suffered substantiated incidents of abuse and neglect.
Become a foster parent with LSF, and receive the support you need to provide hope-filled tomorrows for children and youth in your community! Find your role in helping children in foster care by calling 239-461-7651
Myths About Fostering
Many myths surround foster parenting. Please keep these facts in mind as you consider if foster parenting is right for you:
MYTH: You have to be wealthy and a homeowner to foster.
FACT: You may rent or own your home, and you definitely don’t have to be rich. We at LSF ensure that we do our best to support our foster families in every way possible, whether wealthy or not
MYTH: You have to be married to foster.
FACT: Single, partnered, and married people alike can all be great foster parents. (An increasing number of local foster parents are single.)
MYTH: Foster parents must have biological children or prior parenting experience.
FACT: You don’t have to have children of your own or past parenting experience, just lots of love for the children you will foster.
MYTH: Only people younger (or older) than you can foster.
FACT: People begin fostering at many different points in life. The only age requirement is that foster parents must be at least 21, and many great foster parents are in their 50s or 60s.
MYTH: LGBTQ people can’t foster.
FACT: Many excellent foster parents are part of the LGBTQ community.
Don’t be deceived by foster parenting myths. Contact LSF @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Should you consider fostering?
Ask yourself the following questions to help decide if foster parenting is right for you. Will you be able to:
- Love and care for a child with a challenging background and sometimes difficult behavior?
- Help the child develop a sense of belonging in your home, even though his or her stay will be temporary?
- Stand by the child through life’s ups and downs?
- Be willing to work with the child’s birth family?
Foster parent candidates must:
- Be a Florida resident age 21 and older;
- Be financially stable;
- Be able to care for children;
- Pass an extensive background check and home study;
- Have reliable and safe transportation; and
- Have adequate room and beds in your home for children.
The biggest requirement to be a foster parent is love – and the desire to help children move past their past.