Friends of Children of North Central Florida

The nonprofit Friends of Children of North Central Florida organization formed in 2002 to raise and endow funds to build and maintain a foster care campus in Alachua County that will serve children throughout North Central Florida. The campus will be operated by the Florida Baptist Children's Homes.

Our Foster Parents...

Most fathers start with infants and work their way to the empty nest years. Three AM feedings

mercifully evolve to t-ball games and birthday parties before transcending to the tumultuous

teenage years. But not for Scott Mueller. His unconventional journey of parenthood began with a plunge into parenting energetic 8- and 9-year-old boys.

Such is the life of a young man who falls in love with a single mom!

After becoming married in 2005, Monica and Scott focused on raising the boys, all the while enjoying their lives together. Occasionally, the discussion of adding more kids to their family arose. Since Monica was unable to have more children, fostering and adoption were their only options.

But 'talk' was as far as those plans went for many years. They were completely satisfied with their lives as a small family, so much so that they just couldn't imagine stepping into such an unpredictable journey where life as they knew it would certainly end.

In 2011, a new teaching position for Monica brought the Muellers to Florida. Talks and prayers about adding to the family continued, but neither Scott nor Monica sensed a strong direction either way from the Lord. This would soon change; however, as Monica's new job exposed her to the vast needs of local foster kids through the lives of some of the middle-schoolers she taught, mentored, and came to love.

Seeing the incredible needs of the children created an urgency in Monica's heart to do something. Lives were hanging in the balance as she and Scott continued to 'talk.' Everyday they waited children in their community were going without basic needs as well as the most important things anyone can have… love and family.

As Monica's passion grew, so did Scott's. He couldn't deny how important fostering was to his wife. That in itself made it important to him. One by one, Scott began to lay aside his hesitations. As he did, God began to open his heart and align it with his wife's.

In early 2013, they stepped out in faith and began to take the classes required to become foster parents. No sooner had they begun the classes that they learned about the soon-to-open Cellon-Thomas Campus of the Florida Baptist Children's Homes in Gainesville. After hearing about the new home, a unique campus established with the specific vision to provide a loving environment where brothers and sisters in foster care could be placed together, God opened the Muellers heart to foster these siblings.

But open hearts don't always equate to ample wallets, at least not immediately. Fostering at the FBCH campus would require the couple to accept up to five children at a time. Even with state assistance and housing provided, Scott didn't see how their personal finances would be able to accommodate that type of commitment, especially with Monica having to take a more flexible, lower-paying job in order to be home more with the kids.

Despite their reservations, however, the Muellers decided to trust the Lord. Without a doubt, they knew He had planted the seed of fostering in their hearts. They knew He had ordered their steps in His perfect timing. So, they stepped out in faith and joyfully accepted the assignment. As they stepped forward, God opened the doors needed to carry out His vision.

On December 7, 2013, they moved into one of two brand new single-family homes on the FBCH campus. Two weeks later, they welcomed their first sibling group of foster children, 2-year-old

twin girls and their 4-year-old brother on December 20, 2013. Since that December they have fostered 25 children comprised of sibling groups, single children, babies to teenagers, long term and some for a week or weekend. The longest was a sibling group for 10 months. They were reunited with their family last fall.

Since stepping out, God has provided for this family's every need. From donated yard work, to Christmas toys and decorations, to food and several months worth of paper towels dropped on their doorstep – right when they needed them. They haven't wanted for a thing.

It's been a wild and wonderful year and a half – chaotic at times but abounding in love and blessings. The biggest blessing came when two of their children asked Jesus into their hearts.

When stepping out to foster, the Muellers had one goal: to meet the needs of hurting children. How amazing to think that their stepping out opened the door for God to prove His faithfulness to bless and provide for His own children.

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NOTE: The Muellers are part of a new FBCH foster care model known as Foster Family Homes. Married couples of any age with two or fewer children living in the home -- with a heart for fostering -- are encouraged to apply by contacting the Gainesville office of the Florida Baptist Children's Homes at (386) 418-0147 or children@fbchomes.org.

The campus provides a stable, loving, foster home where siblings can stay together and difficult-to-place older children and teens can feel valued and wanted. Every year local kids are separated from siblings when they enter foster care. In addition to dealing with the abuse, neglect, or abandonment that lead to their removal from parents, these children must enter the homes of strangers without their brothers and sisters. Likewise, every year social workers struggle to find foster care for difficult to place older children and teens entering the system. A family foster home here will alleviate these problems by providing a unique and loving home for these special kids. The campus will be comprised of four 3700-square foot homes that will accommodate four sets of house parents and up to 20 children of all ages.

Property for the campus on Highway 121 between Gainesville and La Crosse was donated by the Bill Cellon family in 2005. Construction began in December 2012 and the first unit of two homes opened in the fall of 2013.  But the dream won't be complete until Unit 2 is also finished. It's hoped the Yerman FOC 5K and other major gifts will allow us to begin construction on Unit 2 in 2014.