Foster parents ask for more rights following Largo toddler's death

It’s been nearly seven months since a Largo toddler was killed after being returned from his foster parents.

Jordan Belliveau spent most of his life with foster parents who loved him dearly. He was killed shortly after being returned to his biological mother. 

Charisse Stinson is accused of killing him in a moment of rage and dumping his body in a wooded area.

Elizabeth Ward wasn’t Jordan’s foster mom but she has been the foster parent for eight children.

“I was out with the search team,” Ward said. “How can it not tug at your heartstrings? This is a baby in our community who was failed.”

After Jordan’s death, Ward started the Foster Advocacy Movement which is a network of foster parents who say Florida's foster care system needs improvements.

“It’s not working! There’s no uniformity,” She said.

In states other than Florida, foster parents have more rights.

Foster Advocacy Movement has begun pressing lawmakers to allow foster parents and caretakers to have a louder voice in their child’s plan of action. They also want judges to hear their voices during child dependency hearings.

“There are foster parents that are told, 'You have no rights, you are not allowed to speak in court,'” she said.

Their movement has caught the attention of State Sen. Dennis Baxley, who is sponsoring a bill to give foster parents a louder voice.

Baxley wasn’t available for an interview Monday, but his office and Ward say if a similar law had existed last September, perhaps Jordan would still be alive.

“If the foster parents had the right to speak up, it could have been a game-changer,” Ward said.

Both the state House and Senate are working on versions of the bill in committee meetings. It will make its way to the floor for a vote in the coming weeks.