Bay County to receive part of $400 million in state funding for foster care support

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) – Governor Ron Desantis said “investments in our children are investments in our future.” That’s why he last week approved more than $400 million in state funding to increase support for adoptive parents and caregivers.

“What is being done is truly unprecedented. This is an exciting time for child protection and family support,” said Courtney Stanford, Chief Operating Officer of Northwest Florida Health Network.

Bay County will soon receive a portion of more than $400 million in state funding.

“The resources we’re going to be able to provide to our caregivers, our parents and non-parents, and our traditional approved foster parents will only get better and better,” Stanford said.

Stanford said in Bay County, 257 children are in care outside of the home.

“So residing with close caregivers, parents, non-parents, traditional adoptive parents and our group homes,” Stanford said.

A framework that we hope to improve with public funds entering the local foster care system.

“We are looking at our system as a whole. Locally, approximately $10 million is split among 12 counties for child welfare. Bay County usually gets about half that,” Stanford said.

Currently, foster families have a daily rate they receive for fostering a child.

“It depends on the child and the challenges, or the trauma that the child can bring to the table as to what they get. We haven’t gotten the specific pricing yet,” Stanford said.

Stanford said the more they could do for foster children, the better.

“The community support for them, whether external or internal to the child protection system, is enormous. The better we can help moms and dads, the better their lives are,” Stanford said.

Lives that the local system and the state are working to improve, one child at a time.

Again, Stanford said it has not yet been said how much of that $400 million will go to Bay County. But, she adds, they expect the state money to be allocated by July 1.

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