ST. CLOUD, Fla. — There is always a need for foster parents in Central Florida, especially those who will look after youths with special medical needs.

What You Need To Know

  • Embrace Families: 50+ kids in tri-county area need foster homes, medical foster homes also needed

  • Becoming a medical foster parent versus a traditional one requires some additional training

  • “This is my life’s calling,” says medical foster mom Vicky Santos

These trained medical foster parents will take them to doctor’s appointments and be their health advocates. Medical foster parents care for a spectrum of youth, from the able-bodied to those who need around-the-clock caretakers at the home.

Embrace Families, the lead child welfare agency serving Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties, says there are about 20 medical foster homes now but upward of 15 more are needed. 

As a whole, roughly 50 youths in the tri-county area need foster homes, including those with special medical needs, and another 20 to 30 children in group homes could use a home of their own, according to Embrace Families.

Becoming a medical foster parent versus a traditional one requires some additional training, but having a medical background is not necessary.

Vicky Santos of St. Cloud has been a foster parent for seven years, becoming a medical foster parent about a year into her journey. She started doing this with her late husband after their biological children moved out of the house.

“We didn’t know what we were missing until these precious children came into our lives and we realized the impact that we made into their lives,” she says.

Santos says she hopes those considering becoming foster parents also consider caring for older youths, including those like hers who have special medical needs: “I’ve always said, ‘What took me so long, what took me so long to do this?’ ”

“This is my life’s calling, and as long as I can take care of them, I will continue,” Santos says.