Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Goodbye, 2009!

As we say goodbye to 2009, here are a few of my favorite highlights from the year:
  • Welcome new families! In state fiscal year 2009, Iowa gained 532 new foster and adoptive families! Thanks to those who made this decision to help Iowa kids in such a unique way. Iowa's need for more foster and adoptive families will continue to be ongoing as kids continue to enter foster care and families leave the system.

  • Adoption Support. We connected more families with post-adoption support services and appointed adoption champions throughout the state to help form support networks for adoptive parents. Another awesome highlight was the support retreats that were held in several service areas for adoptive families.

  • Lights, camera, action. We added video interviews to our web site of some of the children who are waiting to be adopted in Iowa. Go here to meet some of them.

  • Ballpark bash for National Foster Care Month. Families from across the state joined us for a night of baseball and fun at the Iowa Cubs to honor foster families and children during May's National Foster Care Month. Danielle, daughter of a foster and adoptive family, threw out the first pitch!

  • Family Connections. Iowa KidsNet received an exciting three-year federal grant as part of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008. This particular grant will fund intensive efforts to locate relatives and help reestablish relationships for children who are at risk of or on the verge of entering foster care. The goal is to increase extended family support for kids and avoid or reduce the need for them to stay in foster care.

  • Adoption Saturday. Adoption Saturday was a success across the state, with events held in Ames, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Ottumwa and Sioux City. Congratulations to all the families and children who finalized adoptions on this special day!

None of the good things that happened in 2009 could have been possible without many partners and the dedicated hearts of many Iowa families. We are so thankful for you! Here's wishing you a Happy New Year's and a brilliant and beautiful start to 2010.

What are some of things you were thankful for in 2009? Leave a comment, and let us know!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A gift of love for children in foster care

Here’s a great holiday story to warm you up during this winter weather! For the past several years, a group of women in Des Moines have been gathering together to make Christmas extra special for some of Iowa’s children who are waiting to be adopted from foster care. Women from the Circle of Support group of the Fifth District Department of Correctional Services and community volunteers create a handmade Christmas stocking stuffed with small gifts for the children.

The Circle of Support is a project that brings together former offenders, now on parole or probation, with volunteers from the community. It helps them reenter the community and offers support during the transition. The stocking project becomes a way for these women to give back to the community and helps them continue on their road to recovery.

The group finished this year’s stockings in early December. Each of the handmade stockings has the child’s name cross-stitched on it. For one woman who took part in last year’s project, the experience was particularly meaningful. “I was a foster child myself in 1993,” she said, “and I didn’t get to have something so precious and personal like these kids have gotten. I was proud to be part of this experience.”

What a great statement of love to these kids that the community cares about them, especially during this holiday season! If you want to meet some of the children in Iowa who are waiting to be adopted from foster care, you can see some of their bios, videos and photos on our web site.

Hope everyone stays safe during this next round of winter weather! Does your family have a favorite holiday tradition this time of year?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Parties that help kids!

So by now, you may have attended a holiday party or two, or have one coming up as we close out the year! But have you ever attended a party that helps children in foster care?

One new and really exciting tool we have to help recruit foster parents and raise awareness about the needs of children in our communities is the Fosterware Party. If you've ever been to a Tupperware or purse party, the concept is fairly similar - it's just an informal, fun gathering. In this case though, your guests won't leave with a bowl or a bag, but with some new knowledge about foster care.

The host can be a foster parent or simply someone with a heart for kids (it's always good to have a current foster parent in attendance to answer questions though).

You help form the guest list, inviting friends, family, colleagues, neighbors or anyone you know who has an interest in supporting kids and families in your community. Iowa KidsNet provides all your materials. Some of my favorite things in the kit are the games - they educate you on foster care in a fun and creative way. There's one where you brainstorm advice for different situations that children in foster care may experience. You might be surprised to find that you have just what it takes to support these kids!

It's a fun way to share about the myths and facts around foster care, what the need is in your backyard and other info that will hopefully either inspire your guests to explore becoming a foster or adoptive parent or educate them so they can spread the word.

Want to throw a Fosterware Party in your neighborhood? Touch base with one of our Iowa KidsNet family recruiters, and they'll help you get started!

Hope everyone stayed safe during the blizzard yesterday! If you had a snow day at home, did you do anything fun?