New law leaves foster system scrambling to recruit more foster parents

Reporter: Anika Henanger
Published: Updated:

A new law aims at keeping kids out of foster care, or at the very least, place them with families instead of group homes.

It’s considered by some to be an overhaul of the child welfare system.

There’s an overwhelming need for foster parents in Southwest Florida.

Gus and Josh Shotwell are foster parents to two boys and told say they take it day-by-day.

Chip said it has given him something he knows is important, “I know that I’m affecting kids lives … With the younger one, I think it’s becoming a member of a family and part of a family which he really hasn’t had in the past.”

Nadereh Salim is CEO of Children’s Network of Southwest Florida and says they need more foster parents – fast.

“With this FFPSA we’re going need the foster parents more than ever,” she added.

FFPSA is the new legislation set to take effect on October 1, and it will overhaul the foster care system.

The goal is to send fewer kids into the system, keeping them safely with families.

But Salim says that likely means taking the funding and kids out of group homes, “There could be a whole new population of kids that are now being cared for in group homes that will then have to be migrated into foster homes.”

And group homes serve a purpose.

Salim says, “Some of the kids come to us at 16 and 17, and frankly, it’s difficult to really incorporate them into a family.”

That’s one reason Chip Shotwell is telling others about his experience, “To me, it’s like I’m done changing diapers. I had my time doing that, but now I get to take kids I can talk to you I can relate to I can help them with their problems I can hopefully guide them.”

Now, foster care advocates want the state to give them two years to transition to the new system. That would give them time to find more parents.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.