National Adoption Month

Kids First of Florida works yearround to find stable, loving homes for children

By Bruce Hope bruce@opcfla.com
Posted 11/18/20

CLAY COUNTY – November is National Adoption Month. Many children in the area need the love and stability that a permanent home can offer.

As of October, there were 486 children in care. Not all …

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National Adoption Month

Kids First of Florida works yearround to find stable, loving homes for children

Posted

CLAY COUNTY – November is National Adoption Month. Many children in the area need the love and stability that a permanent home can offer.

As of October, there were 486 children in care. Not all are foster care. Some live with relatives, some live with their parents, have services in place, and some currently reside in foster homes. Regardless of the care situation, the goal is always to find a permanent, loving home for the children.

Clay County-based Kids First of Florida is a care agency focused on providing child welfare and foster care services to county residents.

“Our first goal when we get a child into care, our first goal, is to reunify with their family if we can do that safely,” said Irene Toto, CEO of Kids First of Florida. “You know, if we have to take a child into foster care because of abuse or neglect, we always try to – of course – place with relatives or family members first, right; people they know, If we can’t do that, if there’s no relative or family members to take the children in, then they would come into care and go into a foster home. Our goal is always going to be to reunify. We want to try to help whatever is wrong with the family. Gove them the services and support they need to get healthy and make it a safe place so we can return their children. When that’s not possible, then we would look at changing the goal to adoption or finding a new permanent family for the child or children.”

The process is not particularly difficult, according to Toto, but it can be lengthy. The goal is returning a child or children to their home within a year. However, the courts are involved and will make the final determination. Tthe process often takes more than the projected 12-month period. When it comes to the adoption process, many variables affect the time frame.

“If everything goes perfectly, we could be close to that, maybe a year, or 15 months,” Toto said. “Frequently, it can take longer. It really is just an individual and based on the circumstances of the family and the progress that’s made on the case plan and matching kids with the [right] families.”

One adoption story is that of the Gibson family. Four brothers were adopted by their grandmother and her husband. After caring for the boys, the grandparents legally adopted them. That was of the happy stories. In some cases, it’s more challenging to find an adoptive home for multiple children simultaneously.

With a target of 55 adoptions, Kids First obliterated their goal, facilitating 90 adoptions through the course of the last year. The opportunity to place children in a permanent homes is the No. 1 goal of the organization, and Kids First of Florida is more than meeting it.

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