Participation, awareness encouraged

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear joins other national, state and local leaders tomorrow in commemorating the 12th anniversary of National Adoption Day. Celebrated every year the Saturday before Thanksgiving, National Adoption Day is a collective effort to raise awareness of the 100,000 children in foster care who are waiting to find safe and loving families through adoption.

Since the first National Adoption Day, nearly 40,000 children have joined permanent families on this special day. This year the National Adoption Day Coalition expects the adoption of 4,500 foster care children to be finalized and events will be held across the nation to celebrate all families who adopt.

“Most of us are blessed to be spending the holidays with our loved ones and family,” Gov. Beshear said. “But there are so many Kentucky children waiting to have someone to call ‘mom’ or ‘dad.’ As leaders, we will continue investing in the lives of vulnerable children and we encourage others to take part in this national movement by considering personally investing in the lives of these children through mentoring, foster parenting or adopting a waiting child.”

According to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, of the more than 7,000 children in out-of-home care in Kentucky, more than 1,800 have the goal of adoption. Of that number, approximately 300 are available for adoption and are waiting for a family.

A number of benefits are available through the Commonwealth to help those interested in adopting.

The Commonwealth, as an employer, provides one-time financial assistance to state employees who adopt. Kentucky state government has been named one of America’s best adoption-friendly workplaces by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. For the past three years, Kentucky placed first in the government industry category.

The 100 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces list is compiled to honor employers who offer the best adoption benefits in America. Companies are ranked first on the maximum financial reimbursement provided for employees who adopt, then on the maximum number of weeks of paid leave for adoption.

Adoption assistance, medical assistance and respite care are also available to those who adopt children through the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS). Children who are adopted or placed in foster care through DCBS can receive tuition assistance to any in-state college or university. Professional support and guidance, adoption support groups and training are also available.

Kentucky’s adoption program has recently been recognized by the federal government for its exemplary efforts to find permanent homes for children in foster care. DCBS has been awarded a 2012 Centennial Adoption Excellence Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families. The award recognizes Kentucky’s outstanding accomplishments in achieving permanency for children awaiting adoption in foster care, particularly teenagers.

Kentucky has ranked in the top 10 states for the rate of increase in special needs adoptions between the years of 2002-2011, and for four of these years, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011, has ranked No. 1 of all states in this category.

Since 1987, the number of children in foster care has nearly doubled, and the average time a child remains in foster care has lengthened to nearly three years. If only one out of every 500 Americans adopted a child in the foster care system, all of the children eligible for adoption would have permanent homes.

“Children in foster care are some of the most vulnerable members of our society, and we must do everything in our power to make sure they have the necessary tools to live a normal healthy life,” Gov. Beshear said.

Most recently, on April 16, 2012, Gov. Beshear signed into law House Bill 224, enacting the Kentucky National Guard Adoption Benefit Program. The law allows active members of the Kentucky Air and Army National Guard to be reimbursed for a portion of the costs incurred during the adoption process. Kentucky's First Lady Jane Beshear championed the law, which went into effect July 12.

For more information on National Adoption Day, visit www.nationaladoptionday.org. For more inform¬ation on adoption benefits for Kentucky families, visit the DCBS website at http://chfs.ky.gov/dcbs/default.htm. For the Commonwealth’s benefit program for state employees, visit http://personnel.ky.gov/emprel/adoption/.




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