Caregiver Support Program

A program for relatives and fictive kin caring for children in Florida’s foster care system serving Polk, Highlands and Hardee Counties. A program provided in partnership with the Florida Department of Children and Families. The team at Heartland for Children is ready to help you - call 863-519-8900 x 305 or email caregiversupport@heartlandforchildren.org.

 

What is Caregiver Support?

What is Caregiver Support?

Caregiver Support is a program to provide supports, links to community resources, and financial resources to your family as you care for a child who was removed from their home. We hope that this program is a temporary resource while the child’s parents work through challenges they need to in order for the child(ren) to safely return home. However, if this is not possible and you are given the opportunity to become a permanent guardian to the child(ren), there are benefit options to ensure you are able to receive ongoing assistance until the child(ren) reaches adulthood.

The Benefits of Caregiver Support

The Benefits of Caregiver Support
  • Child receives Medicaid to cover medical, dental, and behavioral health services
  • Accessibility to our team to discuss available supports and programs you would be eligible to apply for
  • Access to trainings and support to educate and equip you about the impact of trauma and caring for a child who has experienced trauma
  • Monthly stipend upon completion of onboarding process for Level 1, Child Specific Foster Care Licensing (View the 2024 Board Rate Calendar)

Who Do I Work With?

Who Do I Work With?

You will work with many people within the child welfare system throughout the life of the case. You’ve probably already met the Child Protective Investigator or Case Manager who did an initial home check to place the child(ren) with you. Now you’ll have another added resource with the Caregiver Support Department who will help ensure you are receiving all the benefits and resources you are eligible for.

What Can I Expect?

What Can I Expect?

Our Department will be in contact with you to review and discuss all available supports and programs you may be eligible to apply for. If interested in Level 1, Child Specific Foster Parent Licensing, we will work closely with you to complete the requirements for licensure. Mainly, you will be provided a few training hours that better prepare you for this new role, such as training on the child welfare system and how trauma impacts children. There is a small amount of additional paperwork to complete and supporting documents to provide.  Once your Level 1, Child Specific Foster Care License is approved, you may be eligible for a monthly stipend. A monthly stipend can potentially continue as long as you have the child in your legal custody, even until the child turns 18 if the case closes with you as the permanent guardian under the Guardianship Assistance Program.

What Happens if a Child Can't Go Home?

What Happens if a Child Can't Go Home?

Should the court approve to change the goal to Permanent Guardianship, approval as a Level 1, Child Specific Foster Parent can potentially make you eligible for the Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP).  If you become a permanent guardian, you will complete a Guardianship Assistance Agreement. This agreement will ensure you continue to receive a monthly stipend for the child, monthly until the child is either 18 or no longer in your legal custody. If the child in your home is 16 or older when you become the permanent guardian, you will also be able to opt in to Extended Guardianship Assistance that will carry the stipend on until the child turns 21, provided they are attending school or working. 

For some children, the court will determine that adoption is a more appropriate goal, and you will be given the opportunity to apply to adopt the child after the rights of the parents are terminated.

Trainings

Trainings

 

 

Community Resources

Community Resources

Looking for more resources or programs?

Visit heartland.findhelp.com's searchable database–simply enter your zip code to find programs and services near YOU!

Children's Resource Center is a parent resource center and a project of Success By 6. Success By 6 is a community-wide children’s initiative, spearheaded by United Way of Central Florida and founded by Carol Barnett, President of Publix Charities in 1995 that brings together resources to form a community partnership. Success By 6 is an initiative to make early childhood development a top priority in Polk, Hardee and Highlands counties and to ensure that all children, by the age of six, have the physical, emotional, social, and mental foundation to succeed in school and in life.


Hope Florida - A Pathway to Prosperity

Uniting communities through Hope Navigators to guide Floridians on an individualized path to prosperity, economic self-sufficiency and hope. If you need to connect with a Hope Navigator, call 850-300-HOPE.

 


The Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI) is one of Florida's approaches to strengthening foster care, including kinship care, using branding and marketing principles. It is a process designed to help a site develop new strategies and practices, rather than imposing upon it a predetermined set of "best practices." Our core premise is that the primary goal of the child welfare system is to ensure that children have effective, loving parenting. The best way to achieve this goal is to enable the child's own parents to care for him or her. If that isn't possible, the system must ensure that the foster or relative family caring for the child provides the loving, committed, skilled care that the child needs, while working effectively with the system to reach the child's long term goals.

The mission of the Early Learning Coalition of Polk County is to provide leadership, direction, and integrated resource management for quality services that support our vision of success for children. Their vision is that all children enter school healthy, ready and eager for lifelong learning with the collaborative support of parents, families, educators, and the community.


The Early Learning Coalition of Florida's Heartland's goal is to ensure young children in Charlotte, DeSoto, Hardee and Highlands counties have access to high quality early care and education programs. A high quality early care and education program is one that is filled with rich and creative experiences, a developmentally appropriate environment and caring teachers who sincerely connect with young children. Such a program can truly help a young child prepare for school success!


211 is a vital service that connects millions of people to help every year. To get expert, caring help, simply call 211 or visit 211.org

 

 


ECHO (Everyday Christians Helping Orphans) is a ministry that provides the tangible needs for children in care through donations from the community. Check out one of their ECHO shops near your to find clothes, schools supplies, hygiene products and more.

 


Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) is an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. TBRI® uses Empowering Principles to address physical needs, Connecting Principles for attachment needs, and Correcting Principles to disarm fear-based behaviors. While the intervention is based on years of attachment, sensory processing, and neuroscience research, the heartbeat of TBRI® is connection. Find helpful articles and resources on their website.

 


Charlie Health offers Free Parent Support Groups for parents, grandparents or guardians of teens, young adults, LGBTQIA+, Parent Support for Families of Color, El Grupo de Cuidores en Espanol and Neurodivergent youth.