Family Integrity Program
St. Johns County Works: Family Integrity Program
This edition of St. Johns County Works features the Family Integrity Program, which is responsible for managing the County’s Foster Care Program. FIP Manager Michael Forster and FIP Specialist Patricia Swan discuss the rewards of working in Foster Care within St. Johns County and Kimberly talks about the benefits of serving as a foster parent.
About the Family Integrity Program
The Family Integrity Program's mission is to work in partnership with the State of Florida and the local community to develop, implement and manage a highly effective, strength-based community-based system of care for abused and neglected children and their families. All situations cannot be categorized with hard and fast guidelines. So the Family Integrity Program provides different types of intervention.
Understanding that not one child or family is the same, here are a few examples of the services you and your family may be involved with, as well an explanation of the Florida mandated case plan required for each child.
- Enhancement Services – As part of your case plan you may also be ordered to complete classes in parenting, anger management and addiction prevention. They are offered throughout St. Johns County at various social service agencies. In addition, you may be ordered to complete a psychological evaluation. Names of reputable psychologists will be given to you upon your request. Sometimes caregivers are required to be drug tested on a random basis at a designated drug testing center.
- Dependency Case Management – Dependency Case Managers assist the families with case plan tasks that address reasons for removal. The Dependency Case Manager provides all necessary referrals for the parents, child and caregivers by linking them to the appropriate services. The Dependency Case Manager completes ongoing home visits at the child's placement to ensure safety, well-being and permanency. The Dependency Case Manager attends all court hearings and provides written reports to the Court.
- Independent Living – The Independent Living Program provides services to youth ages 13-18 in licensed out of home care and young adults who were formerly in licensed out of home care. The program is designed to assist youth to become self-sufficient and live independently as adults. They are taught life skills including, but not limited to, money management, career and education planning, and employment searching. Upon reaching their 18th birthday, these young adults may continue participating in the program and receive the Road to Independence Scholarship, Educational Training Vouchers, Transitional Support Services or Aftercare Support Services. This program is voluntary, but does require the young adult to demonstrate progress and actively participate.
- Adoptions – The Adoption Specialist works with special needs children who are legally free for adoption. In most cases, children are adopted by their current caregiver who they have been placed with during the dependency process. Adoption Specialist completes the necessary documents to finalize the adoption. Adoption Specialist also recruits for children who do not have an indentified placement. For more additional information contact, Jillian Atkins, at (904) 209-6127 or visit AdoptFlorida.org.
- Post Adoptions – Post-Adoption services are available to help families meet the special needs of children adopted from the child welfare system. This service can be utilized by adoptive parents for short-term services to enhance safety or to promote continued permanency and well-being for adopted children. A post - adoption support group is held bi-monthly at the Family Integrity Program. Quarterly newsletters are distributed to adoptive families to provide them with ongoing information and support. Please contact, Claudia Sheremeta, at (904) 209-6109 for more information.
- Family Preservation – The Family Preservation Program is a Diversion Program, aimed at families with moderate to high risk of abuse and/or neglect of their children. The goal is to safely maintain the children with their families. Families are referred by the Dept of Children and Families and have the right to refuse the services, in which case the case is returned to the Department of Children and Families. Services include: intense case management, in-home counseling, use of Flex Funds to assist with financial crises and on-site drug screening. Families are seen one to five times per week, as needed.
- Outreach – The Outreach/Prevention Program accepts referrals from community providers, the Department of Children and Families and the Dependency branch of the Family Integrity Program. The families referred are deemed to be of low-to-moderate risk of child abuse and/or neglect. Services range from providing group parenting education to in-home parenting education. Flex funds may be utilized to assist with financial crises. Referrals are made, as needed, to other community agencies for needed services, such as domestic violence counseling.
- Foster Home Licensing – The Foster Home Licensing Unit work together to recruit, initially license and then relicense individuals who wish to be foster parents. The unit insures that all candidates meet the licensing criteria established by the Florida Statute, Florida Department of Children and Families and the Family Integrity program. Once the foster home is identified and licensed, the licensing unit will facilitate the placement of a child in the home to insure that the child and the foster parents are compatible. Through the Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI), the licensing unit strives to give both the child and the foster parents the best experience possible.