PENSACOLA — FamiliesFirst Network of Lakeview Center recently received a grant totaling just over $90,000 from the Child Welfare Specialty Plan Reinvestment Fund the Community Based Care Foundation operates. The expansion in funding will help Lakeview’s child protective services division recruit therapeutic foster parents for children with behavioral health needs who have experienced the trauma of abuse or neglect.

Currently, FFN serves more than 520 children in foster care and provides behavioral health services to around 600 children each year. The child welfare system has seen more youth entering foster care having experienced severe trauma and creating more of a need for therapeutic, medically complex and behavioral foster care.

Therapeutic foster parents receive extensive evidence-based training, weekly in-home therapist appointments, 24/7 on-call support, monthly reimbursements and 10 paid respite days each year. 

FFN is part of the largest comprehensive social services organization in the southeast with more than 60 programs and services to meet a variety of needs. The organization embraces a Trauma-Informed Care approach to all services.

"Our foremost responsibility is the safety of children," therapeutic foster home recruitment specialist Michelle Giordano said. "We also help the entire family overcome challenges such as mental illness, addiction or vocational needs with the hope that they can reunify in a safe environment. Our foster parents provide that critical safety net for the child while the family is receiving services."

If a judge deems that it’s not safe for a child to return home, FFN will seek a permanent, adoptive home with a relative, close friend or adoptive family.

In 2017, the Florida Abuse Hotline referred 11,000 calls from the four-county area to the Department of Children and Families for investigation to determine if children could safely remain in their homes.

Contact the team at 860-4259 if interested in becoming a therapeutic foster parent.