Agency that manages Central Florida foster care facing budget cuts, layoffs

ORLANDO, Fla. — The agency that manages foster care in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties is having to make budget cuts because of a $12 million gap in state funding.


Embrace Families is having to lay off nearly three dozen staff members and make staff members and make reductions to the programs that emotionally support foster parents.

Some foster parents say without that support, they might not be able to continue, which could make an existing shortage in foster parents worse.

One Osceola County woman Channel 9 talked to who didn’t want to be identified said she’s been a foster parent since 2017. But when her license comes up for renewal this year, she’s not sure she’ll continue.

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“I cannot continue without having my emotional support group and knowing that if I’m in trouble or I need help, that I can just pick up the phone and call them,” she said.

Glen Casel, Embrace Families CEO, said they have no choice but to make cuts to fill the $12 million funding gap.

“There’s almost no corner of our system that is being untouched,” he said.

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A report commissioned by the state agrees Central Florida isn’t getting its fair share. It proposes a change to the funding formula that would have given Embrace Families more than the $12 million needed to avoid the cuts.

However, the legislature didn’t make the change this session.

“If we take away the emotional support and homes start closing, there’s going to be more children out there without anything,” the Osceola County woman said. “Without a roof over their heads, without someone to love them.

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Embrace Families CEO said in 20 years, their organization has never desperately turned to the community for help. But now he said might be the time, and the community support can help soften the blow until a more permanent funding fix can be found.

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.

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