Children stuck in group homes due to lack of foster families, group says

CENTRAL FLORIDA — Dozens of children are stuck in local group homes because there aren't enough foster families, Channel 9 has learned.
 
The Florida Department of Children and Families said it gets thousands of calls each year to its hotline and more and more kids are being removed from their homes, but there aren't families to take them in.
 
Rhonda Cross was adopted at birth and her husband when he was 4 years old, so she said they decided to open their home to foster children.
 
"The reward is when they go home, or when they go to their adoptive home, you just feel like you've enriched them," Cross said.
 
Cross said she and her husband have fostered eight kids, sometimes two at a time. They also have two biological children and an adopted daughter.
 
"It's not always easy because you never know what you're going to get," Cross said regarding the responsibility of having up to five children in their home at a time.
 
Community Based Care, an agency that helps find homes for children, said it's in desperate need of more people like the Cross'.
 
The CBC estimates there are 100 children in group homes in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties because there aren't enough families.
 
A DCF report showed that in February of this year, 300 more kids were in need of placement in those three counties than there were at the same time two years ago. Officials said that is in part because of a change to state law that requires case workers to remove kids immediately if abuse has been reported at home.
 
"It is difficult having more kids that are coming into the foster care system, so that's why these grass roots efforts are so important," Danielle Abbey of Community Based Care said.
 
Presentations are being given throughout Central Florida to find people who are interested in foster care. Foster parents receive up to $500 per month, per child to help cover expenses.