JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – This is Tammy McGuire. And this…
"This is our foster room that we've actually made and adjusted to them,” McGuire says standing inside a colorful bedroom for three inside her home.
For the past 7 and a half years these beds have served as a home to dozens of foster children, 40 to be exact.
"A home is a home and to fill it full of children makes it a better home I feel,” she said with a smile.
But this foster mom can only do so much. Right now, there are more than 8,000 kids in Florida’s foster care system. So, the state decided to make a few changes.
"DCF is launching a new recruiting effort to find new foster parents and also better foster parents,” said Department of Children and Families spokesman John Harrell.
The goal is to recruit 1,200 new foster parents this year statewide. According to Family Support Services, there are currently only 180 traditional foster homes in Jacksonville. They’re hoping this push will create about 100 more homes locally.
But in order to make this happen, DCF says they’re streamlining the process and relaxing some of the rules.
So the big question is will these changes put the children at risk?
Harrell tells Action News absolutely not. “Look, child safety is the top priority of the Department of Children and Families. People with disqualifying offenses, especially any violent offenses against children, will not be allowed to be foster parents in the state of Florida.”
DCF says the new plan will allow foster parents to have a lot more leeway when it comes to the kids’ activities. It also means an easier re-licensing process and a lot less paperwork.
For anyone interested in fostering a child just go to www.fosteringflorida.com