Babies and teens are most in need of foster homes
Brevard Family Partnership staff and volunteers like April Coyle, left, Monica Martin, Dee Roberts, Melissa Eady and Jason Simmons collect items needed by children in foster care throughout the year. Photo by Tracey Kinsley
If you are looking for a way to continue the spirit of giving in the New Year, there are plenty of opportunities locally.
There are an estimated 265 children in foster homes in the county, and even more in group homes. The number of foster children in Florida has risen 19 percent in the past year alone.
The ages with the highest demand for foster homes in Brevard are birth to 3 and 15 to 17, according to Tracey Kinsley, director of communications for Brevard Family Partnership. BFP is the only foster home-licensing organization in the county and it works with other groups to find temporary homes for the children who need them.
“The age groups with the highest demand tend to fluctuate. A few years ago our highest demand group was 6 to 9, but now we are in need of foster homes for the youngest and oldest age groups,” Kinsley said.
There is also a need for foster families that are able to take sibling groups. Except for rare cases, it is preferable to keep brothers and sisters in the same home, especially when they are removed from parents.
“We are always looking for families that will allow us to keep sibling groups together. We know it can be harder to take on more than one child, but it’s important to keep these kids together whenever possible,” Kinsley said.
In the coming year, Kinsley says that she expects to see growth in the partnership between BFP and local organizations of faith. Since June, when BFP took recruitment initiatives in-house, foster parent recruiter Jason Simmons has worked to strengthen ties with the faith community.
“We had 85 percent of our foster parent survey respondents saying that they felt it was a calling, or something they were called upon to do,” Kinsley said. “It just makes sense to reach out even more to our churches and let them know about the need for foster homes in Brevard.”
For those who are not in a position to offer a home, but would like to help foster children, BFP accepts donations of gear, clothing and services. Some of the most helpful items include car seats and booster seats, luggage, cribs and rocking chairs. People who can provide professional services like haircuts are also in demand.
“Particularly when it comes to African-American hair, we are looking for people who can donate their time and resources,” Kinsley said.
To learn more about becoming a foster parent or making a donation, go to BrevardFP.org or call 321-752-4650.