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Most Floridians would likely agree that parents provide the building blocks upon which a child learns, develops, grows and achieves in life. Additionally, having a strong and stable family structure helps provide the tools a child needs to succeed in school and, ultimately, in life. Given the significant role that parents and family play in most people’s lives, it’s especially heartbreaking to learn that, according to the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute; an estimated 397,000 U.S. children “are living without permanent families.”

There are a number of reasons why a child may be placed in the foster care system, the vast majority of which stem from cases of abuse and neglect. For these children, many will spend their entire childhoods in a constant state of flux and being shuffled between foster homes. Under these types of difficult circumstances, many children who grow up in foster care begin their adult lives at a severe academic and emotional deficient.

In Florida, individuals who wish to provide foster care must complete training, certification and education courses as well as background checks and home visits. In total, the process of certification takes roughly seven months. In cases where a foster parent subsequently wants to explore adoption options, it’s important to consult with an attorney.

Depending on the circumstances under which a child was placed in foster care, he or she may be eligible for adoption. According to the non-profit, Adopt U.S. Kids, there are currently an estimated 750 children in Florida’s foster care program who are awaiting adoption. For these children, adoption provides their best chance of having a loving, safe and stable home environment where they can flourish and succeed.