Highlands County currently has 16 licensed foster families, according to Kim Daugherty, chief community relations officer for Heartland for Children, the organization that handles foster care placement in the three counties.
The class the Dumases are taking includes seven new potential families in Highlands County, six of whom were recruited through the 111 Project, Daugherty
said that 268 children are currently being served by Heartland for Children
in Highlands County.
Having enough foster homes to meet the community's needs also means that workers looking to place children can choose what they feel is the best home for a child, and not just an available one, said Daugherty
There are currently no therapeutic or medical foster homes in Highlands County, Daugherty
confirmed, and the number of traditional foster homes in Highlands County is not enough to meet the need.
One big misconception about foster parenting is that foster parents are in it for the money.
"That is a huge myth," said Daugherty
, adding that potential foster parents have to show financial stability and prove they have enough resources to care for themselves and their current biological children.
The board rate for a foster child depends on the age of the child and ranges from $429-$515, Daugherty
That money is specifically to be used for the child, and Heartland for Children
is committed to finding quality foster homes, she
Other objections include foster parents' fears of being reported to authorities by an angry foster kid and having their own kids taken away.
While every report must be taken seriously and investigated, Daugherty
confirmed that "just because a report is made doesn't mean we're going to swoop in and remove a child.
agreed that having so many entities involved is probably the biggest challenge for foster parents, rather than the kids themselves.
Biological parents, medical professionals, the courts, guardians ad litem and case workers can all be a part of the decision-making process when it comes to medications and other factors affecting foster kids.
"What does help is when all parties can come together and try to make the right decision in the interests of the child," Daugherty