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Our 10th year anniversary

Good morning Foster Care Kids Need Love Too Family! Happy 10th year anniversary to us. Wooohoo we did it. Without you guys love and support this would not be possible. Please continue to support us by sending your monetary donations at: https://www.gofundme.com/fostercarekidsneedlovetoo407 Thank you so much and have a great and bless day!

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Church hopes to match kids with foster families

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WAYNESBORO — Sonya Payne remembers her best birthday ever.

It was in 2010, the day she legally adopted her foster daughter Ariel Simone Payne, 16.

Ariel wasn’t the first child that Payne has fostered. In fact, Payne estimates that she’s legally fostered 40 children since 1993, and taken in over 70, even if only temporarily.

“That’s why we call her superwoman,” said Ariel’s adoptive sister Taimonique Payne, 15 and a half years old.

Payne decided to become a foster parent while working with battered women, and seeing the effect it had on both the women and children.

“It was too much,” Payne said. “I told my husband, we have to do something to help these kids.”

She read about her first foster child in the newspaper in 1993 and the rest is history.

Even with families like the Paynes, there are still local children in the foster care system that do not currently have homes and are at risk of aging out of the system, which severely affects their chances of success once they become adults, said Jennifer Eccles, foster parent and member of the mission team at First Baptist Church in Waynesboro. There are 163 kids in foster homes locally, but 14 that don’t have somewhere to call home.

That’s why the church decided to hold a summit about foster care, with a panel of foster care workers, parents and adopted teenagers, to inform the community about the need for more participation in the foster care system.

The summit was Sunday afternoon and about 25 people attended, Eccles said.

“The church feels very strongly that we have a calling to help these kids in our community,” said the mom of six. “They need families.”

One of the main focuses of the summit was on the need for care for older children and children with siblings, specifically, Eccles said. Removing the stigma that older children come with more problems is key.

“This is not about bad behavior,” Eccles said of why children end up in the foster care system. “It’s because of abuse or neglect.”

Both Ariel and Taimonique spoke about being adopted and what they would tell other foster parents if they could.

“Never give up on your adopted kids,” Taimonique said. They may have difficult behavior and difficulty adjusting, but never to give up.

For more information about foster parenting call Jennifer Edson or Heather Hudnall at Shenandoah Valley Social Services at 540-245-5800.

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#URGENT AAP Care Recommendations for Foster Care Children

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Despite having resources available to provide for their healthcare needs, a vast number of children in foster care are not receiving adequate medical care.

Given that children in foster care are prone to physical, mental health, developmental, and psychosocial impairment, it is critical that pediatricians claim their role as advocate for this population, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

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According to the updated position paper from the AAP on healthcare issues for children in foster care, 641,000 entered into foster care for some period of time in 2013—a figure that peaked at more than 814,000 children in 2002—and those children have a wide range of needs.

“The majority of children entering foster care have lived in deprived and chaotic environments for a significant period of time until removal for imminent safety concerns secondary to maltreatment,” states lead author Moira A Szilagyi, MD, PhD, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California at Los Angeles. “More than 70%
of children in foster care have
a documented history of child abuse and/or neglect, and more than 80% have been exposed to significant levels of violence, including domestic violence. In addition, even before entering foster care, many children have experienced multiple caregivers, limiting their ability to form a stable attachment to a nurturing caregiver. Removal is emotionally traumatizing for almost all children, although for some, it is the first time they may feel safe.”

Pediatricians are uniquely qualified in these situations to offer medical assessment and intervention for the child; mental and psychosocial counseling; education for caregivers; and to advocate for the best interests of the patient. The child in foster care will enter a pediatrician’s practice with a host of unmet healthcare needs precipitated in traumatic histories and inadequate access to care, Szilagyi says. The problem is so extensive that AAP has begun to classify children in foster care as a population with special healthcare needs, she adds.

“Overall, 30% to 80% of children come into foster care with at least 1 medical problem, and one-third have a chronic medical condition. It is common for such problems to have gone undiagnosed and untreated before these children enter foster care,” she says. “Up to 80% of children and adolescents enter with a significant mental health need, and almost 40% have significant oral health issues. Approximately 60% of children aged younger than 5 years have developmental health issues, and more than 40% of school-aged children have educational difficulties.”

More: Cutaenous clues of child abuse

Szilagyi also pointed out in the study that foster children are 3 times more likely to drop out of high school compared to other low-income children, and slightly more than 50% graduate high school—most often with an equivalency diploma. Beyond schooling, Szilagyi says data suggests that children who were in foster care during their adolescence grow up to experience higher rates of mental health problems, homelessness, posttraumatic stress disorder, and low educational achievement.

Despite the clear need for intervention, however, data suggests that only a fraction of children in foster care are receiving the help they need before, during, and after entering the foster care system.

According to a 2013 report by the Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies and the New York State Health Foundation, children in foster care are receiving minimal care in many cases, and outcomes are generally unavailable for those that do receive care. National data on healthcare frequency in foster children is lacking, but the New York report provides a snapshot.

According to the New York report, a mere 15.7% of children had a preventive care visit with a physician in the 12 months prior to their entry into foster care. Statewide, the number rose to 31.9%. Once children were placed into foster care, the frequency of visits appeared to increase, but not by much. According to the report, preventive visits for children increased while in foster care in New York City from 15.7% to 25.2%, and from 31.9% to 36.5% across the entire state. After exiting foster care, however, the frequency of preventive visits dropped down further than before—to 11.9% in New York City and 25.4% statewide in the year after exit from foster care.

Where visits were higher were in emergency visits—42.8% of children in New York City and 40.4% statewide had at last 1 visit to an emergency department (ED) in the year before entering foster care. Those visits dropped by 38.8% and 30.9%, respectively in the year the children were in foster care, but dropped further in the year after exit from foster care, with 22.3% visiting EDs in New York City and 27.6% statewide.

For infants, the most common reason for an ED visit was childbirth, indicating a high number of deliveries occurred through the ED.

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In terms of inpatient stays, a top reason children in foster care are admitted to hospitals is for treatment of mental health conditions. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder was the top diagnosis for children aged 1 to 5 years, followed by bipolar disorder. For children aged 6 years and older, bipolar and depressive disorders are top admitting diagnoses. Infants also were frequently admitted for respiratory problems, while toddlers and preschool-aged children were commonly hospitalized for injuries and asthma.

The most recent national data on healthcare compliance among children in foster care is from the 1990s, Szilagyi says, when the Government Accountability Office released a “scathing” report on the state of healthcare compliance in foster care.

At the time of the report, the number of children in foster care more than doubled over the previous 5 years but was still half of what it is today. The review at the time found that, despite resources being made available to provide healthcare services for children in foster care, roughly 12% of young children in foster care received no routine health care; 34% were not immunized; at least 32% had unmet healthcare needs; and an estimated 78% were at risk for human immunodeficiency virus but only 9% had been screened for infection. Another 62% of children in foster care were estimated to be at risk for health problems related to prenatal drug use, the report states.

Pediatricians play a big role in providing caregivers—who come to foster care with a wide range of experiences and skills—with education and support to connect them with the services they need and to emphasize the importance or regular, timely healthcare intervention.

To address these healthcare needs, and the special circumstances involving children in foster care, AAP’s updated statement places greater emphasis on early childhood trauma and its impacts on all aspects of health, including physical and mental wellness, developmental health, and how trauma becomes predictive of poor outcomes, Szilagyi says.

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If caught early while the brain is still malleable, pediatricians, through good care and good experiences, can help shift the trajectory for these children in a better direction, Szilagyi says.

“The pediatrician has both a responsibility and an opportunity to really improve outcomes for these children. It really does require some work across systems to implement everything and it requires a lot of time they might not be reimbursed for,” Szilagyi says. “However I think it’s just a really big opportunity to make a big difference in a child’s life. I really view foster care as an opportunity for healing. It’s an opportunity to make sure all their needs are assessed and they have all the services they need.”

Even in cases when children don’t require medical or psychological support upon entry to foster care, things can change quickly, Szilagyi says. Birth parents may be struggling to comply with visitation and mental health care, and noncompliance during the foster care period may negatively impact the child.

“It’s really incumbent on pediatricians to reassess them periodically,” Szilagyi says. “It’s a great thing about having a periodicity schedule in pediatrics. There is an argument for seeing these kids more frequently because they have a lot of stresses and things that can go wrong in their lives.”

By staying attuned to the needs of the children in foster care, as well as their caregivers, pediatricians can provide valuable support at the personal and population level.

Ideally, the AAP guidance recommends that all children receive a full mental health evaluation, including a trauma assessment, shortly after entering foster care. Assessing for suicide risk and acute mental health needs is a priority, but the full evaluation is probably best conducted after the child has had some time to adjust to their new living situation, Szilagyi says. Social workers and foster caregivers may not have adequate experience in caring for a child’s mental health needs, and the pediatrician can offer support and guidance. In instances where psychotropic medications are needed or have already been prescribed to a child, pediatricians must weigh the benefits of the regimen.

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“It can be challenging to discern the appropriateness of psychotropic medication for those children with multiple mental health diagnoses. The use of psychotropic medication to manage the behavioral and mental health problems of children in foster care has come under scrutiny in recent years, as data suggest that children in foster care are prescribed psychotropic medications at a rate 3 times that of other children enrolled in Medicaid and have higher rates of polypharmacy,” according to the AAP statement. “Some children clearly benefit from psychotropic medications when appropriately prescribed, but concern exists that some children are not receiving appropriate mental health and trauma assessments before treatment and that medications are sometimes prescribed in lieu of evidence-based trauma care and other mental health interventions. …In addition, there are concerns about the effects of psychotropic medications on the developing brain as well as the adverse effects of some of these medications.”

When the use of psychotropic medications is warranted, they should be initiated at low doses and titrated slowly, with close monitoring, and no patient should receive more than one psychotropic medication from any given class, Szilagyi says.

In physical assessments, pediatricians should assess upon entry to foster care any evidence of abuse or developmental delay. Follow-up assessments should be performed within 60 to 90 days after placement and include screenings for abuse, poor weight gain, compliance with healthcare recommendations, and bonding between children and their foster caregivers.

In terms of frequency, it is recommended that children in foster care be seen monthly within the first 6 months of life, every 3 months from 6 months to 24 months of age, and then every 6 months thereafter to monitor the wide range of physical and emotional stressors the children can face within the foster care system.

Next: 5 steps to a trauma-informed practice

Pediatricians should allow additional time for assessing children in foster care due to the complex nature of their situations, and also develop an office system for communicating with caseworkers and foster caregivers following each encounter.

Even with the best efforts, however, many barriers exist to providing adequate healthcare to children in foster care, Szilagyi says. Care coordination is particularly difficult given the transient nature and diffuse authority of the foster care system. Pediatricians may also be faced with incomplete medical records, inadequate resources, and difficulty in identifying an authority to consent to health care services for the child.

“See them early, see them often, and continue to see them to monitor their progress and be an advocate when needed,” Szilagyi says. “We’re often the first real child professional that families encounter so we really have an amazing opportunity to either prevent adversity or ameliorate the impact of adversary. Sometimes that just starts with recognizing that bad things have happened and for both children and parents it can begin the healing.”

It’s Time For All States To Be Serious About Foster Care Reform

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It’s disheartening that the state is still wrangling with implementing reforms to protect children in state custody.

I have been writing about the Olivia Y case since the original federal lawsuit was filed in 2004 on behalf of children in the state’s foster care system.

The original complaint detailed physical and psychological harm suffered by the children while known to, or in the custody of, the Department of Human Services Division of Family and Children’s Services. Citing the state’s own reports, the lawsuit alleged incidents of sexual abuse, unqualified employees, backlogged cases, shortages of safe foster homes and fiscal mismanagement, among other problems.

In 2008, the state entered into a federal settlement agreement, saying DHS would do, among other things: Hire more social workers and increase the number of visits the workers make to each foster child; increase its offerings of educational and therapeutic services for foster parents and children; better monitor children’s physical and mental health when they enter foster care; and establish a 24-hour hotline so people could report abuse, and increase reimbursement rates for foster parents.

The state has never been in compliance with the settlement agreement. Last week, the state admitted it.

Children in the foster care system often have been abused, neglected and victimized. Certainly, no one would want them to be further victimized by a system that is supposed to protect them.

It appears with last week’s admission by the state, and Gov. Phil Bryant’s vow to improve the foster care system, that the state is finally getting serious about the issue. Let’s hope that is the case.

Bryant has agreed to hire an executive director of the Department of Family and Children’s Services and waive state salary parameters for the director and for members of a senior management team. The state has also agreed to hire a national child welfare consulting group, the Public Catalyst Group, to conduct an organizational analysis of the state’s foster care system and recommend whether it should be a free-standing agency, how it should be structured and what the state needs to do to remedy all of its violations of the court-ordered reform plan. The group will also recommend qualified applicants from which the governor will select the agency’s director.

The governor has also agreed to call a special session of the Legislature, if necessary, to support the reorganization of the child welfare system and provide additional appropriations to act on the expert group’s recommendations, if the state agrees to adopt them, according to the updated agreement approved last week.

Bryant was right when he said the state can do better to protect children in the foster care system.

Contact Jimmie E. Gates at (601) 961-7212 or jgates@jackson.gannett.som. Follow @jgatesnews on Twitter.

More Maine families opening homes to foster children

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The Department of Health and Human Services said hundreds of people are taking steps to become foster parents after putting out a plea from the department’s commissioner.

Eric and David Stearns said their lives have changed since they opened their doors and their heart to 15-year-old Ethan.

“Ethan is full of life. It’s a lot more vibrant. It’s busy,” Eric Stearns said.

Ethan is a foster child who spent nearly a decade of his life in state custody living in a residential program in Cornville.

“Ethan was a much different child. Very scripted, considered not verbal, high behavioral, high need. We had talked about adoption, and we said we would rather help a child that needs it,” Eric Stearns said.

Nationwide, up to 35 percent of kids in state care are placed in group or institutional settings.

Maine has reduced that rate to five percent.

“If you look at the state of Maine over the past decade we have made incredible strides in the right direction,” said Director of Child and Family Services Jim Martin.

Maine is a leader when it comes to utilizing kinship families.

In 2000, nine percent of children in state custody where in the care of a relative. As of this year, that number had increased to 35 percent.

A 2012 study by the Foundation for Government Accountability found that Maine ranks in the bottom 10 states when it comes to re-unifying families, and 25th for it’s foster care system as a whole.

“We certainly want to reduce the amount of time that children spend in the states care. Children need to be in families,” said Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew.

Mayhew said she hopes to achieve the goal of reducing the time children spend instate care with increasing immediate support and assistance for children and families.

“We want to make sure that we are doing everything possible to improve their outcomes. At the end of the day how do we define success on behalf of these children?” Mayhew said.

Foster children with special needs add another layer to the process, which can seem daunting.

Eric and David Stearns are therapeutic foster parents. They have had extra training with Spurwink Services to learn how to manage Ethan’s autism.

“When families are feeling at the point where they really need something they have people they can call. We have 24/7 on call for families,” Spurwink resource coordinator Rana O’Connor said.

After six months, Ethan is thriving with his foster family.

The Stearns’ dedication to providing Ethan with a routine, exposing him to the outdoors and introducing him to pets is paying off.

“We feel like a real family. It really does work day in and day out,” David Stearns said.

The Stearns hope their success can be beneficial for other potential foster parents.

“I think anybody can do it with any level of commitment. To want to provide a safe environment for any child, I think that’s the No. 1 priority, and they support you with anything that they can,” David Stearns said.

Mayhew said she plants to roll out changes over the next year that she hopes will provide similar support and assistance for all foster families, not just those with special needs.

Foster Care Strong Together We Can Make A Change

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Foster Kids Need Love Too® is an organization that has the best interest of foster kids of this nation at their heart. As a nation we obsess over the bringing up of our children. We make sure to provide them with the best quality of education for their mental growth; we provide the best food to our children to give them a healthy lifestyle; we provide them with the best medical facilities; and all this very rightly so, they are our children after all who will take the mantel of running this nation tomorrow, all this is their right and all of this will be provided by any parent worth their salt.

But take a moment here and consider those children who are the same age as your very own kids. Unfortunately for them there is no way to get all the best treatment in the world because they do not have any family that takes care of them and because they are all alone on this planet.

Think of the consequences for such a child. Lost in the world, they could end up on the wrong paths of criminality or abuse. If they make to a mature age, with their past marred with trouble and nothing good, they could end up in a lifelong destructing cycle of crime, of substance abuse and even of violence.

Think for a moment that just because they did not have a person in their life to guide them, these young minds which could have been put to great use of the civilization have gone rotten at the cruel hands of the unforgiving society.

That child could have been you.

If not for that person who was there for you when you needed them the most; the person who listened to you and gave you a hand when you found yourself seeking a way out of a mess. At Foster Kids Need Love Too® we want to be that family for the unfortunate and underprivileged kids of our nation who are out there as we speak trying to navigate through the adversities of life, in need of person to look up to. We love foster kids and we want them to be our family. We want them to be a part of the bright future of our nation and we are determined in our quest to provide such children with food, care, education and above all, love.

Foster Kids Need Love Too® can only achieve this with your help. You can impart a child with a once in a life time fighting chance to turn their life around for better. Don’t you want to be the person to change a child’s future for the good? Don’t you want to be the person to hold the hand of one young child that may not be your own but will reply to your generosity with the impartial love of a child?

Foster Kids Need Love Too® will continue down this path of empathy and love and with your help we can keep on ‘Drawing Success’. Also send your monetary donations to http://www.gofundme.com/fepxos thank you and God bless we cannot do this without you.

500 Children Adopted During Holiday Season!

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TALLAHASSEE, FL—More than 500 children from Pensacola to Miami were adopted during dozens of November celebrations of National Adoption Month. “Our goal for children in foster care is to find a forever family who will love them, accept them and give them the home that they deserve,” said Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins. “I am so proud of our agency and our partners who are always looking for a permanent home for our kids.” Florida’s Explore Adoption campaign takes place each November. A newly redesigned website at http://www.adoptflorida.org highlighted amazing children and sibling groups in foster care each day of the month with photos and videos. The children most in need of homes are teens, sibling groups and children with special needs whose biggest dream is to be part of a permanent, loving family. “I would like to thank all of our wonderful parents who adopted children this month, and throughout this year,” said Florida’s Chief Child Advocate Zack Gibson, Director of the Governor’s Office of Adoption and Child Protection. “National Adoption Month may be over, but our work is not finished. There are still about 750 children waiting for a family to call their own.” More than 500 adoptions have been reported from our community-based care partners across the state. All of the adoptions have not yet been reported, so the number may still increase. Last year, 3,250 children were adopted from Florida’s foster care system. That was the fifth year in a row that more than 3,000 children were adopted from foster care, bringing the total to more than 17,000. Additionally, over the past two years, Florida has significantly reduced the number of children in foster care available for adoption without an identified family. Florida’s children come into foster care through no fault of their own but because they were abused, neglected or abandoned. They come from varied backgrounds, circumstances, races and ethnicities. While some have specific medical, physical or emotional issues that require special care, many do not. Their entire life histories are shared with prospective adoptive parents. While private adoption can cost more than $30,000, adopting one of Florida’s children in foster care costs little or nothing. The benefits include a monthly adoption subsidy for the family, health benefits for the child, and free college tuition at a Florida public university, community college or vocational school. For more information about the “30 Days of Amazing Children: Explore Adoption!” initiative or general questions about adoption of foster children in Florida, please visit www.adoptflorida.org, please visit to send your donations at http://www.gofundme.com/fepxos  call 1-800-962-3678 (1-800-96-ADOPT), or check out our Twitter feed at @ExploreAdoption.

Focus On Florida Foster Care Mode

The Florida Department of Children and Families’ electronic system used for placing foster children across state lines is being used as the model in a national pilot project. Six states will participate in the pilot program over the next several months. Florida has used the system since 2008. Officials say it significantly decreases the amount of time it takes to place a Florida foster child into a home with relatives or adoptive parents in another state.
The state processes approximately three thousand requests for children to move in and out of state each year.
The database also saves nearly 100 thousand dollars annually in postage and paper.Florida’s foster care program becomes model for nation wide pilot program.

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