Sunday, July 27, 2008

Good News on Adoption

Leadership makes the difference.

In the past year, we've seen an incredible flurry of activity and reform at our Hamilton County Department of Jobs and Family Services, and the results are starting to come in.

Today's Enquirer noted the great increase in adoptions we saw in 2007 (a new record), and our continued success in 2008. This marks a real turnaround from prior years, when outside observers severely criticized the department's poor record on adoption. Rather than sticking these critical reports on a shelf, the County took their criticisms and recommendations seriously, and implemented numerous reforms as a consequence. So far, it looks like they're working.

There are many people throughout JFS and the community working hard to bring about these good results. Much credit goes to Moira Weir, who took over the department about a year ago, and has done a fantastic job from the start. This job is one of the toughest in local government, and is particularly difficult right now because of the state audit that we are working through.

Even with these challenges, Director Weir has produced great results in this and other areas.

Finally, let me take a moment to explain just how important these results are. Finding foster kids a stable adoptive home and family is critical, both to those kids and the whole community. Those kids who "age out" of foster care--meaning they turn 18 without ever being adopted--face so many challenges, and they do so without the benefit of having grown up in a stable, supportive, loving family. Even the strongest young people will struggle to get over this unfair hurdle, and too many, sadly, fall through the cracks.

Nationally, the statistics on the fate of these "aging out" kids are stark:
- 56 percent become unemployed
- 27 percent of males end up in jail!
- 25 percent end up homeless!

We need to do everything we can to avoid these outcomes. And the most important thing we can do is to keep foster kids from "aging out" in the first place--by finding them an adoptive home as early as possible.

And that's why the great improvement in the last two years is such good news.

Congratulations, JFS!


WestEnder said...

I absolutely agree, this is a notable accomplishment.

From a purely economic perspective it makes far more sense to direct monies towards stable homes and education for 18 years of childhood rather than pay for jails, social services, court costs, etc. for 50 years of adulthood.

Anonymous said...

Moira has had just a few hiccups in her turning around JFS - overall, she is doing an outstanding job and I am amazed that she is doing such a good job changing, not just the policies and practices, but the mentality of the organization. Good job JFS

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking about things like this a lot lately. With the economy like it is, low income people are going to flood the doorstep of the county for help. At the same time, the county is cutting budget, people, assistance, etc. Poor kids are going to end up in Children's Services because their parents can't take care of them. How are we going to deal with this?

aljogruber said...

What wonderful news!

We are in-process adoptive parents (internationally)as well as social workers who have helped many touched by this issue.
My husband and I have counselled those who have been adopted, parents who have fostered and adopted, and those who WANTED to be adopted but were not. We have also worked with those exiting the foster care system, helping them learn independent living skills.

God cares deeply about the fatherless and the orphan. I pray more people would, as well.
I also pray that society (including government) will help support those who are willing to open heart and home.

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