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“The foster care program is one of the most important missions of the Department of Children & Family Services,” said DSS Secretary Kristy Nichols. “Nearly 5,000 young Louisianians are entrusted to our care because of child abuse, neglect or special family circumstances and it is vital that every single one is placed in a safe temporary home.”
DSS recruits year-round foster families who can who can provide a home and care for a child or children temporarily. Orientation meetings are held each month across the state. You can find out more about when orientations are scheduled at www.dss.louisiana.gov/fostercare, as well as information on qualifications, the certification process and life as a foster family and care for a child or children temporarily. Orientation meetings are held each month across the state.
Governor Jindal’s proclamation declares that “the full potential of the foster care system can only be realized through continued efforts to attract additional outstanding foster parents and increased public awareness of the needs of these children and their foster families.”
Over the past two yeas, the number of children in the state’s foster care has continued to decline - down 6 percent since April 2007, when 5,190 children were in the state’s care.
Of the 2,000 foster families that open their homes each year to nurture and safeguard children and aid families in crisis, many families adopt one or more of the foster children who come into their homes. Last year, 433 families made adoptive commitments to 597 foster children in the state.
“Although the first goal of foster care is to reunite the child with his or her biological family, a top priority for DSS’ foster child program is moving children who can be adopted into permanent homes,” said Nichols.
A year-round initiative hopes to link foster children who are available to be adopted with families. Each month, DSS highlights foster children who are available for adoption on its Web site, www.dss.louisiana.gov. Children highlighted in May include Domonique and Robert Lee, siblings with great artistic talent. Robert Lee has even had artwork displayed at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
Also on the site: Amy, an honor roll student diagnosed with diabetes; Justin, who hopes his adoptive father will watch Monday Night Football with him; and Dafford and Collin, young brothers whose bright smiles light up a room. In all, prospective families can see photos and profiles of 33 children and sibling groups.
The DSS Web site also features information for prospective adoptive parents, including guides to determine if you are ready to open your home to a child and instructions on how to start the adoption process. That information can be found at www.dss.louisiana.gov/adoption, along with a link to a national adoption Web site, www.adoptuskids.org/states/la/browse.aspx, which features information about 141 Louisiana foster children and sibling groups available for adoption.
“So many people help nurture children whose families are in crisis,” said Nichols. “But the most important are foster families, who open their homes and hearts to help children heal and launch youth into successful adulthood.”
This month, DSS’ regional Offices of Community Services will hold Foster Parent Appreciation events to thank the state’s foster and adoptive parents.
Find out more fostering or adopting a child at www.dss.louisiana.gov or contact a regional OCS office. For a complete list of OCS offices, visit www.dss.louisiana.gov/OCSoffices.