Gov. Kay Ivey announced a record number of 731 state foster care adoptions for fiscal year 2019 Thursday and Tallapoosa County had eight of those.
There are 299 children in Alabama’s foster care system, according to a press release. There are 40 in Tallapoosa County, which is in need of more foster parents, according to Department of Human Resources (DHR) director Brenda Floyd. The county has about 20 foster parents.
“We want our children to have permanency,” Floyd said. “Our children in foster care, they deserve to have a future and a positive future just like everyone else and often times adoption is that outcome.”
According to the release, 69% of children who left foster care returned home to family members or their parents. The state’s adoption record is up from 727 last year. The foster care adoption in the county went up from seven in fiscal year 2018 to eight in fiscal year 2019.
“As Alabama sets another positive record, it is a privilege and truly special for me to spend time with adoptive parents and children who now have their forever home,” Ivey said in the release. “To our foster families, adoption professionals, the Department of Human Resources, and most importantly, to the families who have chosen to bless many children with a forever and loving home — thank you. By providing a forever home, you are forever changing the life of a child as well as your own.”
Floyd said when a child enters the Tallapoosa County foster care system, she looks for permanency for the child whether it’s working with his or her family to get him or her reunited or to live with another family member. Working with families includes teaching them parenting and counseling.
“If those two options aren’t viable we have to potentially look at terminating parental rights and the child being adopted,” Floyd said. “We’ve had several adoptions here in Tallapoosa County.”
Getting children back to their families or adopted is not an easy or quick process. Floyd said adoption happens after DHR tries everything else to reunite families.
“It’s a last effort when we don’t have another option for permanency that we have to terminate parental rights,” Floyd said. “We do have foster parents who care for these children and often times these foster parents have built a bond with the child and if termination of parental rights is the end result then they may have the opportunity to adopt and become a forever family.”
Floyd said the county needs a variety of foster parents from ones who want to take care of children short term to long term and those who want to take care of older children, especially teenagers.
“(Teenagers) need that forever home just like any other child,” Floyd said. “The satisfaction of having a forever home has nothing to do with age. We try to look at the best interests of all our children.”
Floyd said it takes several months to become a foster parent with the county DHR. Foster parents take a 10-week course made up of 10 three-hour sessions and go through background and criminal history checks.
Foster parents also have their homes inspected for safety.
“We need more,” Floyd said. “We have a need for more foster parents because every foster parent can play a role.”
Anyone interested in becoming a foster parent can contact the DHR at 256-825-3700. The department will send a packet and talk to potential foster parents if they’re further interested.
“We have one couple who they’ve been fostering for 20 years and then we have some who are relatively new,” Floyd said. “You can’t do this work and not get attached to this children and their needs. All of these children are loved, nurturing and they need a forever home. They want stability and that’s what we try to do here.”