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South Dakota launches “Stronger Families Together” Initiative

The campaign hopes to recruit 300 new foster and adoptive families a year for the next four years.
Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 8:23 AM CDT
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FORT PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The State of South Dakota has officially launched its “Stronger Families Together” initiative, which is intended to help recruit more foster parents into the mix in the Rushmore state.

The launch comes during “Foster Parent Appreciation Month.”

“Foster care and adoption are essential to protecting the health and well being of children,” said social services secretary Laurie Gill. “(But) They also play a major role in strengthening the fabric of our families and our communities.”

The initiative is intended to bring together businesses, communities, faith leaders, and families to positively impact the lives of foster children.

“Many current foster parents shared how their decision to get into foster parenting has positively impacted every member of their family.

“We have a daughter who just turned ten years old, who says that when she grows up she wants to be a foster parent,” said Renee Bear Stops. Renee and her husband Brady have been foster parents to over a dozen children, and have also adopted. “We have an adopted daughter who graduated from T.F. Riggs High School (Pierre) last year, is studying Human Services at Mitchell Tech, and she wants to be a case worker.”

As of April 30th, there were 1738 foster children in the state of South Dakota. 995 of them were currently living with foster families. The campaign hopes to recruit 300 new foster and adoptive families a year for the next four years.

There are also currently 79 youth legally free and available for adoption.

“It is a focus on making sure we have enough families to bring in kids that should need foster care or adoptive services,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “I am so thrilled to see this partnership between state government, business, and churches. I think it is a partnership we can really use to strengthen families from border to border.”

While the state is actively looking for foster parents to help with any and all foster kids, they are particularly looking for help from those who can foster teenagers, siblings, Native American youth, and those foster children who have special needs.

“South Dakota was built by families supporting families,” Noem said. “No one epitomizes that spirit of support better than our foster and adoptive families. We need more families to open their hearts and homes to children across the state looking for help.”

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