Foster care to adoption: Jacksonville-based agency leads state in placement

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Family Support Services of North Florida is ranked first in the state — for the second consecutive year — in the number of children adopted from foster care.

The lead agency for foster care, adoption and family preservation in Duval and Nassau counties is one of 17 community-based care agencies contracted by the Florida Department of Children and Families to provide child welfare services, including the adoption of foster children, according to a news release.

The agency placed 307 local foster children in permanent homes through adoption in fiscal year July 2012 to June 2013. Statewide, 3,356 foster children were adopted last fiscal year.

Family Support Services “continues to aggressively recruit adoptive parents for foster children who are available for adoption, the majority of whom are teenagers or are in a sibling group of two or more brothers and sisters,” said Lee Kaywork, chief executive director, in the release.

He credited the success to other partner organizations, the agency’s adoption team and the leadership of Circuit Court Judge David Gooding, who has presided over about 1,500 adoptions. More than 80 percent of the local adoptions last year were finalized within 24 months of when the children came into foster care, according to Kaywork.

Since 2006, the agency has found loving adoptive families for more than 2,300 local foster children.

“I am always amazed at the willingness of so many caring people to bring these children into their families. The love and devotion they demonstrate is a credit to this community that should make all of us proud,” Kaywork said.

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