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BATON ROUGE - Since the 2009 launch of the Department of Children and Family Services' Online Adoption Initiative, 64 children in the state's foster care system who were featured on the website have found permanent, loving homes. The Online Adoption Initiative connects foster children with potential adoptive families through the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) website.
"Safety and permanence for children is our top priority," said DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier. "When reuniting children with their families is not possible, DCFS works to connect them with loving homes through adoption. Featuring adoption profiles on our website not only helps to connect children with families that are interested in adopting, but it also brings attention to the need in our state for more foster and adoptive parents and families."
Every month children from each region of Louisiana are selected and then profiled on the DCFS homepage. Potential adoptive parents can select the child's profile and obtain information such as their interests, needs, favorite foods and future aspirations. In addition to being profiled on the DCFS website, the children are also featured in television and radio segments and in newspaper articles across their region.
DCFS has profiled a total of 137 children on the website. Of these, nearly 47 percent, or 64 children, have been adopted or are in the process of being adopted, including 14 sibling groups.
Currently there are 4,040 children in the Louisiana foster care system in 2,016 certified foster homes. More than 620 of these children have been legally freed for adoption. In Federal Fiscal Year 2011-12, a total of 468 families adopted 654 Louisiana foster children.
Adoption of foster children occurred in all regions of Louisiana including 72 children in the Orleans region, 28 in the Baton Rouge region, 119 in the Covington region, 77 in the Thibodaux region, 154 in the Lafayette region, 63 in the Lake Charles region, 60 in the Alexandria region, 52 in the Shreveport region and 29 in the Monroe region.
DCFS' Home Development and Adoption staffs work together with community organizations to recruit homes for children who are available for adoption and who do not have an identified placement resource. Foster and adoptive families are recruited at community speaking engagements, with informational fliers and by using community resources. These families are encouraged to attend orientation meetings in their area to gather more information about foster parenting and adoption.
"We challenge our community and faith-based organizations to get involved in the search for adoptive and foster families and encourage people thoughout the state to make a difference in a child's life by choosing to open their home to fostering or adopting," said Sonnier. "The support and nurturing provided by foster parents and adoptive families is essential to ensuring positive long term outcomes for those children who are unable to remain safely with their families."
Since September, 352 applicants have begun the process of becoming a foster family.
Orientation meetings are held every month across Louisiana for those wishing to learn more about foster parenting, qualifications, the certification process and life as a foster family. DCFS recruits year-round for foster families who can who can provide a home and care for a child or children temporarily. Visit www.dcfs.la.gov/fostercare for the schedule of foster care orientations.
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.la.gov/adoption. To view foster children featured on the DCFS website, visit www.dcfs.la.gov/adoptionprofiles.