Foster Care Services
What makes Boys Town different?
- Experienced staff with you every step of the way
- Ongoing foster parent training offerings
- 24/7 support to foster parents
- We focus on reunification whenever possible
Who are the kids in foster care?
- Children who have been abused or neglected
- They may be newborns, toddlers, grade-schoolers, middle-schoolers, and teenagers. They often have brothers and sisters who are in the same situation. Some might have medical problems and disabilities; others may have special care needs.
What is it Like to Be a Foster Parent?
Being a foster parent can be both a challenging and rewarding experience, but it can also be a lot of fun. Check out the videos below for some special moments shared by some of our Boys Town foster families.
Dancing During Quarantine
Woman: We've got some news today to share with everybody.
Woman: What's that say up on the board?
Together: Adoption Day.
Child: Adoption Day.
Woman: Adoption Day.
Child: Twenty...? Oh.
Child: August 24th.
Man: What's this say?
Woman: Lean back, honey.
Together: August 17th, 11 a.m.
Man: 11 a.m.
Child: Next year?
Child: I thought Dad was gonna spend...
Woman: In one month.
Woman: The day before school starts.
Woman: Oh, honey. Are you excited or sad?
Man: It's gonna be great, isn't it? Finally, after all this time.
Woman: Are those happy tears?
Man: After all this time.
Family is everything to Randy and Emily. Becoming foster parents has allowed them to share their love and family values with children who have never known loving, close-knit bonds. Randy and Emily bring vital relationship-building connections to children in need and create stable environments for them to find happiness and to thrive.
Callie and Marvin Perry have been foster parents with Boys Town North Florida for 8 years and have had approximately 10 placements during this time. The Perry's typically have children placed in their home for longer periods of times than what is expected in foster care due to the level of care they are able to provide. The youth currently placed in their home have been with the Perry's since December of 2019. They have done an excellent job working with the youth to teach staying calm strategies, self-control, and social skills. The Perry's have been one of Boys Town North Florida's longest standing foster parents and are always willing to help us with respite needs, placements, and support to other foster parents. We are grateful for their commitment to improving the lives of the vulnerable children in our community.
Amy came to Boys Town as a teenager. She was removed from her home as a victim of sexual abuse and neglect. Her mother struggled with substance abuse. As a way to cope, Amy frequently got into fights. She was also failing in school.
When Amy arrived at her new home, her foster parents welcomed her with an open heart. They combined care and respect with Boys Town's research-based approach to child care. At first, Amy didn't know how to respond. But deep down, she knew this was how a real family acted. A huge transformation started to take place in her life.
After only one year in a Boys Town foster care home, Amy's report cards are all A's and B's, she is less defiant, and she has a positive relationship with her mother. Amy is not perfect, and she struggles from time to time, but one thing Amy does know is, "this is the first time in my life that I feel like I'm part of a real family."
Boys Town Foster Parents Paul and Michelle see their home as a diverse place where everyone's kids belong: his, hers, theirs and someone else's.
"We're truly a blended family," Michelle says of her son Nicholas, 16, Paul's daughter Marisa, 14, their son Paul, Jr., 6, and at any given time, one or two foster children. Since they became Boys Town Foster Parents in 2005, they have had seven placements, all boys, and have also taken in several other children for short-term placements. Some come for several months, others more than a year, but they are always a welcome part of the family.
The couple agrees that fostering parenting has been a great gift to give to their children.
"It's a wonderful experience that money can't buy," Michelle said. "It gives them a different outlook on things."
As foster parents, they have been pleased with the level of support Boys Town provides. Whenever they've felt they couldn't meet the needs of a certain child, Boys Town consultants and coordinators have provided guidance.
"It matters to them that the placement is right," Paul said.
The couple firmly believes in the Boys Town Model ® and its focus on positive reinforcement. They enjoy helping their foster children grow and make positive changes in their lives; they hope those children will feel good inside about their accomplishments and take that with them throughout life.
Michelle and Paul nurture their foster children as their own, but are always respectful of a child's own parents. Michelle said she believes that while parents make mistakes and have flaws, most innately love their children and want the best for them.
Foster parenting is not for everyone, the couple says. Having foster children naturally brings new responsibilities and can be challenging, but for the Higgins family, the rewards are clearly worth it.
"If you have the room in your heart, it's a great experience," Michelle said, "It's wonderful to see the changes you can make in a child's life.
Stella and Todd have always had a heart for children.
You hear it in their voices when they talk about their little ones, you see it in their eyes when one of their former foster children comes "home" for the weekend and you feel it in your soul as you learn more about their experience as Boys Town Foster Parents.
"We've been Foster Parents for seven years, and we've loved every minute of it," explains Stella, a paraprofessional. "We love being able to provide these children with what they need and really take care of them. They may not have had that before they came, but we make sure they know love when they leave."
Stella and Todd have cared for eight foster care children, all of different ages, backgrounds and ethnicities. And every child has become part of their family. From throwing birthday parties for the kids at Chuck E. Cheese to making sure they eat all their vegetables, Todd and Stella treat the children as if they're their own, because once they step through the door, they are.
"You have to look at each child as an individual, much like you do with your own children," says Stella. "They each like a certain food or want to go to a special place, and as a Foster Parent, you get the opportunity to provide that for them and see their joy."
Of course, being a Boys Town Foster Parent is not always filled with smiles and laughter. Stella and Todd will be the first to tell you that children they've cared for can sometimes be very difficult. However, Boys Town is always there to provide support and guidance to Foster Parents, no matter the situation.
As much as they depend on Boys Town, Stella and Todd's greatest support comes from one another. Todd, who has been in the military for 32 years, and Stella work together every day to provide a nurturing home, and their sons Todd, Jr., 31, and Jason, 28, serve as big brothers to the children.
"This is a family affair," explains Stella. "Our extended family supports us, our sons come over often…we are all a part of this experience, and we can't imagine our lives any happier."
The Reid's story
Kevin: I actually had never planned on being a foster parent. Connie wanted to foster a child, and since then we've had over 200 boys.
Connie: We had our own children. I love working with children. I also was a teacher at the time, and, because I love working with children I also felt the need to foster children.
Kevin: The kids out there they were having problems. It was because of the home lives they've had.
Kevin: And if you look in the homes, especially in a whole bunch of communities where people don't have money, and so on and so forth, in most cases, there's also not a man in that house. I believe that a father needs to be there to show a boy how to become a man. And I didn't say tell him, show him. It's very important they see us do the things that we want them to do. You know, you don't have to tell them to do as I say, you tell them to do as I do.
And I tell the kids, "I wanna help you. We love you, we wanna help you. We didn't bring you here to put you out. We didn't bring you here to fail with you. We brought you here to help you, but you have to be a part of this. You have to want the help. You've got to care about yourself also. Whatever happened to you in the past, it's unfortunate, but your future depends on you. You are in control of that more so than you'd think. And my job again, is not to be your friend, but to help you orchestrate how you're going to get there."
And that's exactly what I set out to do. We can make a difference, but we have to hang in there to make the difference. We got to stand there because people have turned their back before on these kids, and you need someone on your side to go through this process because you can't do it by yourself. You need someone that's gonna have your back. Heather has gotten know us, and we've gotten know her. There are times I may not say things quite the right way. There are times I may not do things quite the right way. But Heather knows us. She knows our home, she knows what our intentions are, and she stands in the gap for us. Boys Town's the best.
Children live in foster homes for varying lengths of time. Their stay usually depends upon a child's individual situation and needs. Permanency planning (finding a place where a child can live and/or receive treatment on a long-term basis) begins the day a child is admitted into the foster care program. In most cases, foster parents can plan on caring for a child for six to 18 months, and, on occasion, much longer.
You must have enough bedroom space so that a foster child has their own bed and dresser.
You must make enough income to meet your own family's needs. You are reimbursed for the costs associated with caring for a foster child.
You will receive extensive training prior to placement of a child in your home. This involves trainer-led instruction, which includes informational handouts, role-playing activities, and videos. Boys Town also provides ongoing training to increase your knowledge and share new insights on how to help children in your home.
When you decide to become a Boys Town foster parent, you're making a commitment to improve a child's life—and you'll do it with the support of an organization with 100 years of experience, one steeped in a tradition that began in 1917 with Father Edward J. Flanagan's dream to change the way America cares for children, families, and communities.
Every Boys Town foster parent must be dedicated to making this dream a reality. Boys Town offers extensive foster-parent training, and our foster parents can count on continuous support and consultation after they've started providing care.
Take the first step toward becoming a child's hero.
A growing number of children are in need of foster care. Dangerous living conditions at home, financial problems, and even the lingering results of natural disasters are only a few reasons why more and more boys and girls across the country need a safe place to live.
For more information on how you can join Boys Town's Foster Family Services® team, please complete the form below.
Basic requirements for becoming a Boys Town Foster Parent*:
- Must be 21 years old
- May be single or married
- Must be a high school graduate
- Must submit to a criminal background check
- Must be financially stable
- Must successfully complete the Boys Town Foster Family Services training program
- Must have adequate space for a child
- Must be able to provide quality care and supervision
- Must agree not to use physical discipline
* Other state and local requirements may apply.