Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Rick Scott

David E. Wilkins

December 6, 2011
MEDIA CONTACT: Terri Durdaller
SunCoast Region
Communications Director

DCF’s Home for the Holidays Initiative, Working to Reunite Foster Children with Loved Ones for the Holidays

SUNCOAST REGION – As we quickly approach the upcoming holidays, the Florida Department of Children and Families is again committed to help every child in foster care to be with family or loved ones during the holidays whenever possible.

Foster care serves such an important role for some children whose parents require time to rebuild a safe and nurturing environment for them, but we all acknowledge - there's no place like home,” said Mike Carroll SunCoast Regional Managing Director.

In recent years, the agency has made "Home for the Holidays" a priority push during this time of year so that children in foster care can spend time with loved ones on such family-centered days. "Loved ones" for so many of these children include parents, family friends, siblings, extended family, foster parents, coaches and even teachers. Red tape, paperwork and frivolous restrictions are unacceptable reasons that children cannot share a holiday with a person who plays a significant role in that child's life. While foster families and group homes make every effort to ensure a wonderful occasion, the holidays can still be very difficult for some of these children.

As the goal of foster care is to safely reunify a family whenever possible, we're reminded that days such as Christmas are grounded in family traditions. The Department is working with parents to expedite reunifications already scheduled to occur, to finalize adoptions with new moms and dads, even request amended days or times on visitation orders so that children may spend time with his or her family on that special day.

The initiative requires collaboration from contracted agencies, legal teams, judges, guardians, foster families and most importantly dedicated case managers. In many circumstances, the effort requires expedited background screenings, court orders and travel arrangements. In the SunCoast Region, which covers 11 counties there are approximately 5,747 children residing in out of home care. Every effort is being made to ensure that children in foster care are able to be with loved ones this holiday season - and that those unable to do so - have a wonderful and joyous holiday season.