One year of COVID-19 has impacted some of the most vulnerable in society. Out of hundreds of children in foster homes in Tennessee awaiting adoption, the state’s four largest adoption agencies were only able to find homes for 40 children last year.
To help these children, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has announced a public-private initiative called TN Fosters Hope. According to the group’s website, its mission is to bring together community organizations, businesses, faith communities, and state agencies with the goal of creating “high quality care and opportunities for children and families impacted by foster care and adoption.”
The initiative will be led by the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, which has announced plans to facilitate collaboration between the state’s Department of Children’s Services and two leading advocacy groups, Tennessee Kids Belong and Show Hope. Tennessee Kids Belong seeks to “empower and equip leaders in the government, business, faith based and creative sectors to end the crisis for kids in foster care,” as outlined by the group’s website.
Show Hope aims to provide adoption aid, medical assistance, pre- and post-adoption support, and other services to help children finding their forever families.
“When we join forces with the faith community and trusted partners like Tennessee Kids Belong and Show Hope, we can help Tennessee foster kids find permanent, loving homes,” said Gov. Lee according to a press release. “I am calling on the faith community to join us as we work to build one of the most adoption-friendly states in the country.
Statistics show that children who age out of foster care without an adopted family are at an elevated risk of homelessness, criminal behaviors, and other challenges in life. In 2018, 961 children in Tennessee aged out of foster care, according to Tennessee Kids Belong.
“On behalf of the nearly 8,800 children in our care, I thank Gov. Lee and all of our Tennessee Fosters Hope partners for their commitment to improving the lives of children and families in our state. The Department of Children’s Services cannot do this work alone,” said Jennifer Nichols, commissioner of the TN Department of Children’s Services, according to a press release.
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