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Advocacy & Guardianship seeks tribal foster parents

Those who receive email announcements from the tribe may have noticed a recent one soliciting interest in foster parenting. The informational flyer – composed by the Advocacy & Guardianship Department (part of Health and Human Services) – asks those who are eligible to consider foster parenting as a way to give back to the tribal community.

Fos­ter care is a tem­po­rary liv­ing sit­u­a­tion for children whose par­ents can­not take care of them and whose need for care has come to the atten­tion of authorities. While in fos­ter care, chil­dren may live with rel­a­tives, fos­ter fam­i­lies or in a group facility. Officials say about half of children who enter the fos­ter care sys­tem will return to their par­ent or pri­ma­ry caretaker.

“We are making a plea to the tribal community, to ensure that the youth home is not over capacity,” Winstera Young, the Advocacy program administrator, said.

Winstera Young

The tribe has operated a youth home on the Big Cypress Reservation since 2015. As of press time, Young said there were 15 children living in the home. The tribe would like to see those children placed in homes, and when possible, eventually reunited with their parents.

Corey Renken, the therapeutic treatment supervisor at the youth home, said the youth home exists to create a safe and nurturing environment to help meet the needs of the children.

“The youth home wants to create a place where children can be themselves, learn new skills, play, and be within the community,” Renken said.

Young said children are placed in foster care when the Florida Department of Children and Families determines there is a safety risk that prevents them from remaining in the home. It includes children who have expe­ri­enced unsafe con­di­tions, abuse, neglect or have par­ents who are unable to care for them. A court could decide to return them to their home if it’s determined to be safe.

The tribe’s foster parenting program is open to tribal members only – whether a family, single parent, relative or non-relative of the child. Requirements include agreeing to provide “quality care … sharing love [and] providing security and understanding.”

Other requirements are a willingness to support reunification with birth parents, completion of a positive home assessment with adequate sleeping arrangements for the child or children, and providing an environment free of conditions that can be hazardous to children. Candidates must submit to a random drug screen and be free of all illegal substances, complete a criminal/abuse background check and have no convicted violent disqualifying offenses or verified abuse history.

For more information, contact the Advocacy & Guardianship Department at (954) 965-1338 for Hollywood; (863) 902-3200 for Big Cypress and Immokalee; (863) 763-4128 for Brighton; and (813) 246-3100 for Tampa.

Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at