MUHLENBERG COUNTY, KY (11/30/12) – Nine adoptive families were honored earlier this month by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) during a reception to celebrate “forever families.”
CHFS Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes said the adoptive parents have answered the call to serve the state’s vulnerable children and deserve their praise.
“These awards can only partly reflect our great appreciation for your dedication to these children,” she said. “For everything you have contributed to the state’s adoption services, we honor you tonight.”
Teresa James, commissioner of CHFS’ Department for Community Based Services – the agency that oversees adoptions in Kentucky -- said that adoptive families get significant support through benefits, training and mentoring services. Families also can specify to caseworkers the kinds of needs they would be prepared to handle for one or more children.
“Adoption brings so many rewards, but when there are questions or challenges, parents can just pick up the phone to find a voice of experience or a helping hand,” she said. “We make it a priority to assure potential adoptive families that they never have to be on their own.”
The “Forever Families” Awards were established in 2003.
Governor Steve Beshear proclaimed November as Adoption Awareness Month in Kentucky.
About 85 percent of all state adoptions are by families who participate as a foster parent first, said Diane Underwood, manager of DCBS’ Adoption Services Branch.
This year’s “forever families” stand out as true examples of compassion and commitment, she said.
“These parents share a love for their children and a devotion to helping them no matter what,” Underwood said. “They have shown that caring adults can absolutely help turn around a child’s life.”
The need for adoptive parents grows annually, she said.
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 legally free for adoption and are waiting for a family.
Many of the children waiting to be adopted may be considered harder to place because they are part of sibling groups, teenagers or have special health needs.
Several other awards were presented at the ceremony.
Caseworker Dusty Whitaker of the DCBS Salt River Trail Service Region received the 2012 Adoption Worker of the Year Award. This award was established in 2006 in honor of exceptional dedication and service to Kentucky’s “forever families.” Nominations for the award are taken from resource parents and staff. An independent panel chose the award winner.
The Champion for Permanency Award was presented to Carrie Price, former director of Adoption Support for Kentucky, a consortium of parent-led adoptive parent support groups throughout the state. The Champion for Permanency Award was established in 2004 to honor an individual for their dedication and service to ensure permanency for Kentucky’s children through adoption.
The Dave Thomas Foundation received the Adoption Award of Excellence. This award was established in 2005 to recognize staff for outstanding service in promoting adoption. In 2007, the award was changed to a community partner award as a way to recognize our collaborative partners for their service and dedication to promoting adoption.
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.
To learn more about adoption, log on to www.chfs.ky.gov/snap or call the cabinet at (800) 432-9346 to request an information packet.
Adoptive parent award winners are:
─ Van and Kristin Mitchell – Muhlenberg County, Dunmor (The Lakes Region)
─ Fred and Renee Miller – Taylor County, Campbellsville (Cumberland Region)
─ Charolette Sandlin – Perry County, Buckhorn (Eastern Mountain Region)
─ Taylor and Jeanne Smith – Jefferson County, Louisville (Jefferson Region)
─ Ken and Kitty Dabbelt – Boone County, Union (Northern Bluegrass Region)
─ Gary and Jeanetta Barker – Carter County, Olive Hill (Northeastern Region)
─ Amy and David Scalf – Clark County, Winchester (Southern Bluegrass Region)
─ Gene and Sara Casey – Shelby County, Shelbyville (Salt River Trail Region)
─ Marty and George Ann Treece – Edmonson County, Smiths Grove (Two Rivers Region)
Information provided by Anya Weber
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