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Our Programs to Help Adoptive and Foster Families

The Sylvia Thomas Center for Adoptive and Foster Families (STC) provides a variety of services to foster and adoptive families across Hillsborough County each year. Services include:

  • Information and Referral for all adoptive families
  • Case Management and In-Home Therapy to post-adoptive families through the Family Forward Program
  • Staff-directed Adoptive Parents’ Support Group for pre- and post-adoptive parents
  • Family-directed support group, Parents Empowering Parents (PEP) Talk for pre-and post-adoptive parents
  • Forever Friends Kids’ Club for post-adoptive children (ages 5-12) and their siblings
  • Teen Scene therapeutic support group for post-adoptive teens (ages 13-17)
  • Teen Scene Goes to College transition to adulthood services for teens and young adults (ages 13-21)
  • Training opportunities for all adoptive parents
  • Respite activities during school breaks for post-adoptive children and teens
  • Advocacy for all adoptive families

All services are delivered by trained personnel who are competent in adoption matters, with skills and experience identifying and responding to the unique needs of adoptive and foster families and children. All services are provided free-of-charge to families.

Information and Referral

Staff at The Sylvia Thomas Center are knowledgeable of community resources and events. Families are encouraged to call STC to link to other programs that may be available to address family needs. STC proactively encourages all family support services, community members, families and friends to refer adoptive families to the Sylvia Thomas Center that are interested in our program, need help, want more information or want phone support.

Case Management – Family Forward

The Sylvia Thomas Center provides case management services to post-adoptive families experiencing challenges in their homes. Case management is provided for approximately 6-9 months to help enhance attachment, stabilize behavior, improve interaction and communication, and/or prevent out of home placement. This is a family-centered program where parents are provided with the tools they need to parent their child. Referrals are typically self-initiated by parents who call STC and complete a telephone intake that is followed by a home visit to conduct an assessment of needs. All services are provided in the family home or in a location they select and are free-of-charge to the family.

Support Groups

Support, in various forms, has long been identified as key to the successful maintenance of adoptions. Support groups at the Sylvia Thomas Center allow opportunities for parents, teens and children to share their experiences with others who experienced similar circumstances. They create opportunities for mutual support and resource exchange.

Adoptive Parents’ Support Group meets on the 2nd Thursday of the month from 6:30 – 8:00 PM. This is a psycho-educational group meeting with a topic and a speaker each month. We share info about trauma and attachment, self-regulation, etc. This group includes child care and light refreshments. Currently on hiatus.

Parents Empowering Parents (PEP) Talk meets the 1st and 3rd Thursdays from 10:00 – 11:00 AM. This is a drop in group where parents share and connect to form informal networks and friendship with other adoptive parents. The parents lead and determine the topic of discussion each week. Includes coffee and pastries. No child care. Currently only meeting the 3rd Thursday of each month.

Forever Friends Kids Club and Teen Scene occur on the 4th Thursday of each month, 6:00 – 7:30. We have our adolescent support group, Teen Scene, ages 13-17, and Forever Friends Kids Club, ages 5-12. These groups include discussion and interactive crafts, games that focus on building trust, integrity, friendship, etc. We also serve pizza and a light snack.

Support for Young Adults – Teen Scene Goes to College

Teen Scene Goes to College is an expansion of our Teen Scene group that is available to teens and young adults (ages 13-21) with an emphasis on transition to adulthood topics such as post-secondary education, vocational training, employment and independence. Supports are provided in a combination of individual and group settings.


The Sylvia Thomas Center is prepared to provide training to foster and adoptive parents as well as to the professional community upon request. The monthly Adoptive Parents’ Support group includes psychoeducational trainings on various topics including adoption benefits, working with schools, suicide awareness, residential treatment needs, the power of play, alternatives to corporal punishment, and various other topics. Additionally, STC will alert foster and adoptive parents to other training opportunities available in the community.


The Sylvia Thomas Center hosts Respite Activity Days for children and teens during some school holidays – Super Spring Break Away, Summer Respite Activity Days, and Thanks for Giving Respite Day. These activities typically run six to eight hours in length and provide parents with an opportunity to experience a brief respite and allows opportunities for youth to engage in activities with other adoptive youth.


The Sylvia Thomas Center provides advocacy to pre- and post-adoptive families. STC staff can be made available to attend meetings and appointments with the parents for the benefit and protection of the child. Staff can assist by attending pre-adoptive disclosure meetings, IEP and other school meetings, court hearings, etc. to help better understand the needs of the child and render professional recommendations.