Today, in recognition of National Adoption Month, Governor Charlie Crist encouraged renewed focus on adopting teenagers from state foster care in an announcement received by Historic City News.
Teenagers are one of the hardest-to-place groups of children in foster care. Last December, the Florida Department of Children and Families created the “Longest Waiting Teens” initiative to encourage the adoption of teenagers. The goal is to find families for the 103 children – including teenagers and their siblings. Since the initiative began, 26 have been adopted.
“I am proud that since I became Governor, we have seen record-breaking numbers of adoptions, with almost 10,000 foster children finding loving and caring families,” said Governor Crist. “We must continue to make the extra effort to find adoptive families for foster children who are older, as well as those in sibling groups or who have special needs.”
The “Longest Waiting Teens” project identifies youth who have been in foster care the longest and are readily available for adoption. The initiative helps community-based care organizations focus on finding adoptive families for the youth, and caseworkers develop new strategies to meet this goal. Many of the teens currently in foster care have been there for more than five years, and a disproportionate number of them are African American males.
Governor Crist applauded the Florida Department of Children and Families for receiving $9.75 million in federal bonus funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The federal adoption incentive rewards states for adoptions of older children in foster care or those with special needs. Under the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, a total of $35 million in adoption incentive bonuses is going to 38 states and Puerto Rico, with the next highest award going to Texas, which received nearly $5 million.
Since July 1, 2009, more than 600 adoptions of foster children have been finalized and approximately 200 completed adoptions are anticipated during November 2009. Earlier this year, Governor Crist announced Florida’s record-breaking 3,777 adoptions through Florida’s public adoption system during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009. This record follows the previous year’s record of 3,674 in 2007-08, up from 3,079 in 2006-07. Additionally, during the 2008-09 fiscal year, Florida saw the fewest children entering foster care since 2003. As of July 1, 2009, there were 19,797 children in out-of-home care, down 32 percent (9,483 children) from 29,280 children in January 2007.
To learn more about the Governor’s Explore Adoption initiative that focuses on adopting teens, siblings groups and children with special needs from state foster care, please visit www.AdoptFlorida.org or call 1-800-96-ADOPT.