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In Federal Fiscal Year 2010, 455 families adopted 646 Louisiana foster children, including 134 children aged nine or older.
"Foster families provide a safe refuge for children, however, we know that the best place for children is in a permanent home," said DCFS Secretary Ruth Johnson. "Adoption provides a wonderful opportunity for a family to welcome children in foster care into a permanent, stable and loving home."
Louisiana's adoption award for 2010 totaled $1,308,398 and was the tenth largest amount awarded to the 32 states that met the criteria.
"This award celebrates Louisiana's continuing commitments to ensuring that each child in the state has a safe, loving home," said Johnson. "We will use these funds to enhance Louisiana's child welfare and adoption services for children who are victims of abuse or neglect."
DCFS has two years to spend the funds, which will go to approved child welfare activities and programs that support and promote foster child adoption. The agency will begin putting together recommendations in the next few months.
The Adoption Incentive Program was created as part of the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, which authorized incentive funds to states that increased the number of children adopted from foster care. The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 provided stronger incentives for states to find children, particularly older children and children with special needs, adoptive homes.
For each child over the baseline, the incentive awards are $4,000 for each foster child adoption; $4,000 for each special needs child; and $8,000 for each child age nine or older.
DCFS credits specialized training of its adoption and home development staff and concentrated efforts to recruit new adoptive and foster families for the additional 227 adoptions in Louisiana over the state's 2007 baseline figures.
In total, HHS awarded more than $32.5 million to Louisiana, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
There were 4,405 children in Louisiana's foster care program as of October 2011, cared for by approximately 2,000 foster families, as well as in residential programs. More than 650 of these children are available for adoption.
DCFS recruits year-round for foster families who can house and care for a child or children temporarily. Orientation meetings are held each month across the state. Orientation schedules are posted at www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/fostercare. Additional information on qualifications, the certification process and life as a foster family can also be found at the site.
"I encourage families who are considering adoption to visit the DCFS website to learn more about adoption services and how they can make a difference in the life of children through adoption," said Johnson.
Along with television, radio and newspaper features, DCFS launched a feature on its website, www.dcfs.louisiana.gov, in February 2009 that profiles foster children who are available for adoption. The goal of the initiative is to link foster children who are available to be adopted with families. Of the 110 children featured on the site since it was launched, 39 of the children profiled have been paired with families and have been adopted or have adoptions in progress.
The DCFS website also features information for prospective adoptive parents, including guides to determine if families are ready to open their home to a child and instructions on how to start the adoption process. That information can be found at www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/adoption, along with a link to a national adoption website, www.adoptuskids.org, which features information about Louisiana foster children and sibling groups available for adoption.