3,000 Adoptions of Children in Foster Care Last Year Bring Florida’s 4-Year Total to Nearly 14,000 – 800 Children Still Available for Adoption

TALLAHASSEE – Over the last four years, Florida has found adoptive families for nearly 14,000 foster care children — more than 3,000 of those were adopted last year alone.

Still, roughly 800 foster children are waiting for loving parents to give them a permanent home and a bright future. The majority of children in foster care who dream of being adopted are teenagers.

“I am so happy that more than 3,000 children in foster care were adopted last year in Florida,” First Lady Ann Scott said. “They will grow up supported and loved by a permanent family. As a child advocate, I have met many of our children in foster care available for adoption, and they have captured my heart. I encourage Florida families to experience the joy of adopting children from foster care.”

Florida’s Explore Adoption campaign is supported by the Governor’s Office of Adoption and Child Protection and the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF). It continues to raise public awareness about the need to adopt children from foster care, including those who wait longest for permanent families: teens, sibling groups and children with medical needs. Information on the children and adopting can be found at www.adoptflorida.org

“Families and communities can make a tremendous difference in the lives of children in foster care available for adoption. Please spread the word about the need for adoptive families, consider adopting a child or sibling group, or offer support to adoptive families,” DCF Secretary David Wilkins said. “Florida is a national model on adoption because we never give up on finding adoptive families for children in foster care.”

During the past year, Florida made major strides in increasing awareness of children in foster care available for adoption, including:

· Reducing the number of children in foster care available for adoption
without an identified family from 850 to 800 on any given day in Florida.

· Launching the 30 Days of Amazing Children: Explore Adoption! campaign
during National Adoption Month in November 2010. The campaign presented a different video each day on www.adoptflorida.org of children in foster care speaking in their own words about their dreams of being adopted. Four months after the campaign was kicked off, 12 of the featured children had been matched with adoptive families. The creators of the no-budget campaign, Diane Hirth of DCF Communications and Cyndee Odom of the Governor’s Office of Adoption and Child Protection, received a state Golden Image Award on August 9 from the Florida Public Relations Association.

· Holding nearly 50 local adoption celebrations and finalization
ceremonies around the state during National Adoption Month.

· Starting a Twitter campaign in April to promote adoption of children
from foster care. People and organizations now are able to regularly access news and information on adoption by following @ExploreAdoption on Twitter.

· Featuring the Florida Association of Heart Galleries’ photo exhibit
of 50 children in foster care available for adoption in the state Capitol.
The exhibit of professionally taken photo portraits of children was on display during May and June, the months that include Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, on the 22nd floor of the Capitol and in the Governor’s Office lobby.

Florida has received more than $15 million in federal bonuses for being best in the nation in 2009 and second in the nation in 2010 in increasing adoptions of children from foster care. There were 3,674 children adopted from foster care in fiscal year 2007-08; a record 3,777 children adopted in fiscal year 2008-09; 3,368 children adopted in fiscal year 2009-10; and 3,009 children adopted in fiscal year 2010-11. Florida’s goal of safely reducing foster care has led to a 34 percent decrease in the number of children in foster care, down from 29,255 in December 2006 to
19,245 in June 2011, and that reduction has affected the number of children in foster care available for adoption.

Floridians are encouraged to watch for and participate in the many local adoption celebrations that will be occurring this November during adoption month.

To learn more about adopting children from foster care, which costs little or nothing and includes free health care and college tuition for the children, become an @ExploreAdoption follower on Twitter, visit www.adoptflorida.org, or call 1-800-96-ADOPT.