By Carli Mosby, Kentucky Youth Advocates intern
November is National Adoption Month, an initiative led by the Children’s Bureau that seeks to raise awareness of the hundreds of thousands of foster children throughout the country, and the 1,774 children in Kentucky in need of permanent, loving families. This year, the initiative focuses its awareness efforts on “Teens Need Families, No Matter What,” which emphasizes the thousands of teens in foster care that are at risk of aging out of the system with no familial connections.
In the months leading up to this awareness-raising month, however, our leaders in Frankfort have been seeking information from state agencies, advocates, legislative committees, and youth to improve the adoption and foster care systems in Kentucky. As a result, adoption has been a leading topic at the Capitol throughout 2017. The issue has been brought to light by Governor Bevin’s Administration as a direct result from the Governor’s own experiences with Kentucky’s foster care and adoption system. The Governor and First Lady, who have five biological and four adopted children, know firsthand how difficult it can be for children in the foster system to find stable, loving homes.
Currently, the Commonwealth has over 8,6000 children in out-of-home care as a result of abuse, neglect, or dependency. While reunification with their biological family is often the goal, there are some children that are unable to safely return to their homes and, as a result, become eligible for adoption.
There are several individuals and groups looking at ways to improve the functions of the child welfare system, including a Governor-appointed Adoption Czar, the House Working Group on Adoptions, which is looking to make recommendations for the 2018 legislative session, and the Program Review Committee in the Legislative Research Commission, who recently released a report with 10 recommendations.
The Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children will also have policy priorities around child welfare issues that target systems change. Stay tuned as the 2018 Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children priorities are released in December.
Every kid deserves a safe home and loving family. This month, and every month, it is important to remember that improving Kentucky’s adoption and foster care system is a bipartisan issue in which everyone has a role. It is up to our state lawmakers to make sure we take care of our most vulnerable children and give them every opportunity to find their “forever family.”
If you’re interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent, learn more at adopt.ky.gov.