Tag Archives: Reaching out

Texas has spent over $7 million fighting foster care lawsuit

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AUSTIN — Texas has spent more than $7 million fighting a class-action lawsuit over its troubled foster care system.

Since 2011, three state agencies have spent nearly $6.6 million in lawyers’ and other state staff members’ time and on travel, transcription services and other expenses related to the federal suit, according to data obtained by The Dallas Morning News under Texas’ open records law.

Additionally, the Department of Family and Protective Services has been forced to pay $650,000 for salary and travel expenses of the two experts appointed by the court to come up with a reform plan.

Last December, U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack declared Texas’ foster care system unconstitutionally flawed and ordered the independent overhaul. The lawsuit was filed in 2011 by the New York-based advocacy group Children’s Rights and multiple Texas law firms.

Some child advocates and lawyers who brought the suit on behalf of 12,000 children in long-term foster care find Texas’ resistance disheartening.

“We’d like to see state leaders quickly put the legal battles in the rearview mirror and focus on helping kids,” said Kate Murphy of Texans Care for Children.

Paul Yetter of Houston, who was the plaintiffs’ lead lawyer at trial, said, “Given that innocent children’s lives are at stake, the state should be focused on fixing its broken system, not spending millions to defend it.”

Spokesmen for Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton insist the legal costs were necessary. They say that only the state itself, free of judicial interference, can fix Texas’ foster care system, which state officials have acknowledged needs work.

Paxton spokesman Marc Rylander said that “if the plaintiffs complain about wasting resources on defending against its lawsuit, they should drop their lawsuit and stop using Texas children as hostages for their policy negotiation.'”

Judge Jack’s final order in the case could come in a few months and she could effectively order the state to spend tens of millions a year on new initiatives. Paxton appears all but certain to appeal the final order.

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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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Foster Care Strong Together We Can Make A Change

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Donate!

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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.

17,000 kids can’t play your political games

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When my partner and I decided we wanted to become parents, we had no idea the level of complexity and number of challenges that would emerge along the way. After all, we thought, why would anyone want to prevent a child from finding a stable home and a loving family?

As prospective parents, excited by the thought of expanding our family, we were surprised to learn that same-sex couples were considered bottom on the list of homes to be placed with children. We learned that many adoption agencies throughout the state acted on their right to refuse representing same-sex adoptive couples.

After finally locating an agency that treated us with dignity and respect, our dreams came true when we were introduced to two beautiful sisters who would forever change our lives and give us the new title “daddy.” Our mission since has been to raise awareness and get to the real truth of this community need.

ROBERTS: 17,000 reasons why Ducey did the right thing

MONTINI: Ducey takes stand for all adoptions, including same-sex

What often gets lost in the whirlwind of rhetoric are the 17,000 children in Arizona’s foster care system who need and deserve a loving home. This is why Equality Arizona is launching a new effort called Project Jigsaw: Connecting Every Child to a Loving Family.

The recent decision by Gov. Doug Ducey to require state agencies to allow all legally married couples in Arizona, including same-sex couples, to adopt was a huge step in the right direction. As the governor so eloquently stated, “All children deserve a loving home, and under my watch, I’m committed to making sure government encourages that.”

In order to achieve this, Arizonans need to take an “all hands on deck” approach.

First, we need to ensure that all who are involved in the adoption process have access to the resources they need. This means giving parents, providers, educators and others access to helpful information and resources about adoption so the child can succeed

Second, we need to begin educating the public about the importance of adoption and why we should never put up barriers to finding children permanent, loving homes in Arizona.

Finally, Project Jigsaw will connect with elected officials and providers to ensure that Arizona policies align with Gov. Ducey’s vision of a home for every child.

It’s time for all of Arizona’s leaders, regardless of political party, to come together and support loving families of all walks of life. While there are many in this community who can afford to play political games, the 17,000 children in Arizona’s foster care system certainly cannot.

Ultimately, the campaign is about creating an environment where all Arizonans can be lucky enough to experience what my partner and I have: building a loving family for amazing children, who need and deserve it just like every other child.

And though the individual pieces of our family may not be the same as yours, I can assure you the final picture will show the same thing: unconditional love.

Ohio bill would extend foster care services to wards age 21

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Foster Care Kids Need Love Too

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – A state bill would extend the age that younger residents can get foster care services while requiring that court-appointed guardians receive a guide developed by the state’s attorney general.

The legislation would increase to 21 the age that foster youths could get services, provided they meet certain education and work requirements. It would create a bill of rights for those under guardianship care that would include being treated with dignity and respect, having personal information kept confidential, and safe, sanitary and humane living conditions.

State Rep. Dorothy Pelanda, one of the bill’s sponsors, said the proposal is designed to protect two of the state’s most vulnerable populations: people under the care of guardians and foster children approaching adulthood.

“As a family lawyer for more than 30 years, and having been appointed a guardian or attorney for a foster child, I have witnessed firsthand the heartbreaking circumstances of these situations and the confines and frailties of the law as it relates to these individuals,” Pelanda said in a written statement.

Advocates for those in foster care say more than 1,000 youths age out of the system at 18 each year, increasing their risk of homelessness, unemployment and dependence on public assistance.

Under the proposal, participation in the extended foster program would be voluntary.

The bill’s sponsors say their measure also is aimed at raising awareness of issues associated with caring for the more than 67,000 juvenile and elderly wards in Ohio.

The state costs associated with the bill include $300,000 in 2016 and $1.7 million in 2017.

Hand for Hope National Adoption Awareness Month

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This month is National Adoptions Awareness Month. This year’s National Adoption Month initiative emphasizes the importance of sibling connections for the 102,000 children and youth in foster care waiting for adoptive families. Please support the movement and cause together we can make a change.
Good morning Foster Care Kids Need Love Too Family! Foster Care Kids Need love Too® provides community education, public policy/advocacy and direct services for children and youth who have been removed from the care of their parents to the supervision of the state. The organization recruits and sustains volunteers who serve in public and private agencies or work on projects designed to enhance the lives of foster, homeless, transitional and incarcerated children and youth.

Think back to that one person that made a huge impact in your life. Now don’t you want to be that person in someone else’s life? Together we can make a change.

Year-Round we are in need of backpacks, diaper bags, school supplies, hygiene items, stuffed animals, books for all ages, toys, address books, journals, coloring books, strollers, pack and plays, baby clothes, games, socks, shoes & clothes. Also donations will go to special projects directly to the child to enhance the life of their future send your monetary donations http://www.gofundme.com/fepxos . “Drawing Success”

Extend Supports to Foster Youth Through Age 21 Ohio

Extend Supports to Foster Youth Through Age 21 please sign this petition for the foster care children in Ohio we sincerely need your support have a great and bless day Foster Care Kids Need Love Too Family. 620 signatures so far. Let’s make a change! Click the link below to sign the petition. Together we can make a change!

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Our organization has the best interest of foster kids of this nation

Foster Care Kids Need Love Too

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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 kid 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’

Please send your monetary donations by clicking this URL link for Foster Care Kids Need Love Too https://www.wepay.com/donations/fostercarekidsneedlovetoo Thank you an god bless!

Couple gives up wedding gifts for foster kids

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The couple.

When planning their upcoming wedding, Joe Martin and Sandi Britton decided they didn’t need any crystal, dinnerware sets or gift cards. Instead, they pondered how the money for those marital presents might benefit local foster children. They’ve since voiced that request to friends and family, meaning more donations are rolling into Least of These Gaston on their behalf. Formed earlier this year, the nonprofit provides emergency money, supplies and support for area foster parents, bolstering the efforts of social service workers.
“The fact that they would do that was humbling,” said Susanna Kavanaugh, co-founder and executive director of the group, who is also a local foster parent. “We were kind of floored by their offer, to be quite honest.”
Britton and Martin, who’ve known each other 15 years, are both from Dallas and now live in Lincolnton. Their big day is Oct. 19.Neither of them have any personal experience with the foster care system, but both have worked around children. Britton teaches gymnastics and Martin has given martial arts lessons in the past.As their wedding began drawing closer, they realized it would be pointless for people to give them a huge number of traditional gifts they didn’t have any use for. “We’ve just been very fortunate in our lives and received many blessings,” Britton said. “There was nothing we really needed, and we felt like there were other people out there who were much more in need than we were.”
Britton said she’s always had a special place in her heart for children who go through foster care. A friend who serves as a Gaston County foster parent told her about the Least of These, which takes its name from the Bible. Whether foster parents care for children through DSS or another private agency, they typically receive a stipend of some sort for their work. But that doesn’t usually cover everything that helps to enrich a young person’s life. There’s seldom state money available for non-essential things such as prom dresses or braces. In addition to raising money to help in those situations, Least of These Gaston also meets more urgent needs. DSS workers must often seize custody of children in an emergency and place them in a foster home that hasn’t been fully equipped with supplies to ease the transition. The nonprofit partners with Hope 4 Gaston’s Closet of Hope to have a constant supply of pajamas, diapers, clothing, child car seats and other goods that may be needed at the drop of a hat.
Britton said she and her fiancée were lucky enough to grow up in supportive families. They learned what it means to be in a stable environment where children can develop self-esteem and a hard work ethic, with adults to look up to. “As we’ve been teaching and working with kids, we saw how important it was to make a difference in their lives,” she said. Least of These Gaston’s nonprofit status was recently certified, which will open the door to it pursuing larger grants and growing. “Things are going well,” Kavanaugh said.
They have set up a link on their website,www.LeastOfTheseGaston.org, where people can make monetary donations in the name of Britton and Martin. “It was very surprising,” Kavanaugh said of their overture. “Because that’s just very selfless to do and it’s hard to come by these days.” For more information on donating or volunteering for the nonprofit, contact Kavanaugh at 704-616-5172.You can reach Michael Barrett at 704-869-1826 or twitter.com/GazetteMike.