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November 2017

Becoming a foster parent

Every child deserves a loving home to grow and learn, and at least one supportive parent to help foster a bright future.

The demand for foster families in Indiana has reached an all-time high. In fact, nearly twice as many children are in the foster care system than there are available foster homes, according to the Indiana Department of Child Services. More than half of these children have a parent with substance abuse issues – a growing problem due in part to the opioid epidemic.

Foster families provide an immediate source of stability and safety for children who have experienced trauma, with the hopeful intention of reuniting the child with their birth family. Some children are only placed in a foster home for a few days while others can be in foster care for more than a year. No matter the period of time, these children are able to continue to grow and thrive in a nurturing home provided by foster care.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be married or own a home to become a licensed foster parent, and you only need to be 21 years old or older. There is also no requirement that you have children of your own. Some children benefit from having other children in their foster homes and others are better off placed in a home with no other children, which is why it is important to have a variety of available foster families in Indiana’s foster care system.

Some steps that need to be met to ensure foster parents are capable and willing to take care of a child include passing a criminal history and background check, home visits to ensure safety standards, positive personal reference statements and completion of required training. View the full list of standards to become a licensed foster parent in Indiana here.

Children are placed with foster families through a matching program that addresses needs, abilities and resources of both the child and the family. Reimbursement is distributed to foster parents on a per diem, or per day, basis, and amounts vary based on the needs of the child.

To learn more about becoming a foster parent, click here, and to speak with a foster care specialist, call 812-234-0100.

To learn about the partnership between the Indiana House of Representatives and the Indiana Association for Resources and Child Advocacy Institute for Excellence, click here and follow #FosterHopeIndiana on social media.

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Helping Indiana’s foster families

In Indiana, nearly twice as many children are in the foster care system than there are available foster homes, according to the Indiana Department of Child Services. More than half of these children have a parent with substance abuse issues – a growing problem due in part to the opioid epidemic. As the demand for foster families in Indiana reaches an all-time high, House lawmakers are finding ways to help children in need.

House Speaker Brian C. Bosma and House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath announced a partnership between the Indiana House of Representatives and the Indiana Association for Resources and Child Advocacy Institute for Excellence during the 2018 legislative session. The nonprofit organization serves over 4,600 children every day in foster homes, group homes and treatment facilities, and works closely with DCS to improve the lives of the children.

About 57 percent of all children entering the child welfare system are newborns through five years of age. Many of these children leave their homes with the clothes they have on or only what they can fit into a trash bag. This fact led legislators and House staff to launch a donation drive to collect needed items, like diapers and blankets, for foster families caring for newborns and infants. On Jan. 24, lawmakers plan to fill diaper bags with donated items during IARCA’s annual day at the Statehouse.

Statistics from DCS show the number of children in out-of-home care jumped from 13,811 in September 2015, to 17,214 just two years later. To help spread awareness and encourage more Hoosiers to consider fostering or adopting, legislators and IARCA launched a social media campaign using #FosterHopeIndiana and a new website, www.FosterHopeIndiana.org, with information for anyone looking for ways to help

The Indiana Heart Gallery, a traveling photo exhibit featuring portraits of children in need of adoptive families, will also be featured outside the House Chamber throughout the legislative session. According to DCS, about 150 children are available for adoption in Indiana at any given time.

Through our partnership with IARCA, we want to encourage more Hoosiers to open their hearts and change a life through fostering or adopting a child in need. If you aren’t able to care for a child, we encourage you to reach out to foster families in your area, as they too, need support and encouragement.

 

National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month, an initiative to increase awareness and bring attention to the need for permanent families for children of all ages in the foster care system.

As of May 2017, about 8,000 Hoosier children were in a relative’s care, 7,200 were in foster care and about 1,000 children were in residential care, or group homes, in Indiana. The average child in the foster care system is 8-years-old and will spend more than three years in foster care. Unfortunately, 22,000 children nationwide age out of foster care, leaving them with no stable support system and putting them at a higher risk for negative outcomes.

In Indiana, the demand for families looking to adopt is growing. According to the Indiana Department of Child Services, about 150 Hoosier children are available for adoption at any given time. The Indiana Adoption Program, also known as the Special Needs Adoption Program (SNAP), seeks to find forever homes for Indiana’s children and older youth.

The Indiana Heart Gallery is a traveling photographic exhibit that features children in foster care in need of a loving home. The display was started by the DCS to allow these children to tell their stories and remind Hoosier families that adoption can change lives.

There are many statewide efforts to recognize adoptive families and promote adoption. Indiana courts are celebrating National Adoption Month by allowing photos and video recording in adoption proceedings. The courts will welcome approximately 220 children and their new families. Click here for a list of participating counties.

Click here for an interactive map with upcoming events across the state. To learn more about adoption in Indiana and to see a list of children waiting for adoption, click here or call 1-888-25ADOPT.

Stay tuned to learn about our upcoming partnership to help raise awareness about Indiana’s foster care needs on Organization Day, Nov. 21! #FosterHopeIndiana

DNR clarifies rifle laws for 2017 deer season

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has clarified the laws governing the use of rifles on public lands during deer hunting season.

The DNR signed an emergency rule on Nov. 3, which states that rifle cartridges that were allowed in previous years on public land will be allowed again this year during deer firearms season, the reduction zone season (in zones where local ordinances allow the use of a firearm), special hunts on other public lands such as state parks and national wildlife refuges and special antlerless season.  Legal rifle cartridges must fire a bullet of .357-inch diameter or larger, have a minimum case length of 1.16 inches and have a maximum case length of 1.8 inches to be used on public land.

If you would like information on the specific rifle requirements for deer hunting on private land, DNR has information available on their website under “Equipment.”

Free financial aid assistance

The single most important form for helping students receive money to go to college is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. All students, regardless of income level, who are planning to attend college must complete the FAFSA form every year. The FAFSA form is required for students to be considered for federal and state grants, scholarships and student loans.

The FAFSA must be filed by April 15, 2018, to be eligible for federal financial aid.

To help families navigate the application process, financial aid experts will be providing assistance for college bound students across Indiana during College Goal Sunday at 2 p.m. on Nov. 5. Students who attend could win one of 10, $1,000 scholarships. There will be 39 sites statewide – click here for the location nearest you.

Can’t make it to a College Goal Sunday event? Learn tips for filling out FAFSA and common mistakes to avoid here. You can also explore different types of financial aid by clicking here. If you need any assistance submitting the application, call 1-800-4FED-AID.

 

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