FRANKFORT, KY (May 4, 2004) – They have been abused, neglected, abandoned. They require specialized care, that their parents aren’t trained or equipped to provide, for serious medical, psychological, emotional, behavioral and developmental problems. Their parents abuse drugs and alcohol, are incarcerated or otherwise are unable or unfit to care for them. They have no other family members to whom they can turn.
Children are placed in foster care for a wide variety of reasons. This year, more than 6,000 kids in Kentucky will need foster care. When home becomes unsafe or parents otherwise become unable to properly care for their children, foster care often is the best and only alternative.
Foster parents were the focus of a recent proclamation issued by Gov. Ernie Fletcher and the guests of honor at a celebration at the Kentucky History Center in Frankfort. On May 4, the governor proclaimed May Foster Care Month in the Commonwealth, and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services honored some of the state’s most outstanding foster parents at its annual Excellence in Service Awards ceremony.
“Children need a secure, healthy home environment in which they can grow and learn by the example of kind, loving parents,” stated Fletcher. “Foster parents provide the quality home life for children who otherwise may grow up without hope. I would like to extend a sincere thank you to all the foster parents of Kentucky.”
Speaking at the awards ceremony, CHFS Undersecretary for Children and Family Services Eugene Foster said all of the caregivers in Kentucky’s more than 2,000 approved foster homes deserve the utmost admiration and respect.
“Raising... children is an enormous responsibility and often daunting challenge even under the very best of circumstances,” Foster said. “Foster families, however, step in to accept that responsibility under less than ideal circumstances – often under the worst imaginable circumstances.”
Foster told those attending the awards ceremony that foster families know and willingly accept the challenge of providing a caring, compassionate home to children who may not want to be there or whose special needs require special care. Foster parents “know their efforts are both needed by and tremendously valuable to the young lives they serve,” he said.
Foster families often go above and beyond their duties and become adoptive parents to their foster kids. More than 80 percent of the public adoptions in Kentucky last year were foster parent adoptions, Foster said.
The Kentucky Foster Care Excellence in Service Awards were established in 1999 to honor a foster parent or foster couple from each of the cabinet’s 16 community-based services regions. Recipients are chosen based on criteria including initiative, advocacy, self-sufficiency, interest, flexibility and creativity in their foster caregiving.
CHFS Secretary James Holsinger said foster caregivers are a source of hope and security to many children facing trauma, crisis and instability in their homes and lives. They provide a healthier, safer alternative for children when circumstances at home make that necessary, he said.
“Whether foster children eventually reunite with their biological families, are adopted or remain in care until they turn 18 and become independent adults, foster parents are that strong, steady bridge for kids going through uncertain and challenging times in their lives,” Holsinger said. “We salute our foster parents for the compassion, sacrifice and skill they so generously provide the young ones placed in their care.”
For more information on the state foster care program or to learn about becoming a foster parent, phone toll free, 1-800-232-5437 or visit http://cfc.ky.gov/help/foster_care.asp on the web.
The 2004 recipients of the Kentucky Foster Care Excellence in Service Awards are: