A new study on adoptions in the U.S. shows Kentucky is falling behind other states in placing children in the foster system with families.
It comes as state officials are starting forums on how to improve the foster care system.
“I believe we need more support for the homes that are out there,” says Antoine Smith-Rouse, who adopted his daughter, Sincere, last year.
“We visited with her for a good three months prior to her actually placed in our home just to make the transition easiest for her,” he recalled. “We went to Louisville multiple times a week to visit her.”
Smith-Rouse is a children’s advocate at Casa of Ohio Valley in Owensboro. He says there are times where relatives of children in the foster system want to adopt, but aren’t able.
“There are grandparents who say I would love to take in my grandchild, but I cannot financially afford them, or we see they ‘ve taken in their child and their grandchild’s been with them for 9-10 months and they say, ‘I have depleted all of my financial resources,'” says Smith-Rouse.
A Annie E. Casey Foundation study shows 81% of children in Kentucky’s foster care system are placed with families, but that is lower than the national average, and in the bottom ten in the country. In Indiana, that rate is at 93% and in Illinois is at 85%. Smith-Rouse says more can be done to help relatives of affected children.
“I feel like there are relatives out there that could be willing and able to take the children too if they had the support,” he says.
Rosemary Conder of CASA says families looking to adopt should have more improved services.
“We know there’s a critical need for evaluation of our processes, how to streamline those, and how to do wraparound services for our families,” she says.
State citizen foster care review boards are hosting forums on improving the foster care system. Those forums are scheduled for next Monday afternoon at Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro and next Tuesday at Madisonville Community College.