DCF Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Charlie Crist

Robert A. Butterworth

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Sarrah Troncoso
June 31, 2008 (850) 488-4855

Florida Sets New Record for Number of Children Placed in Adoptive Homes
~State leaders hope to continue historic results with "Explore Adoption" campaign and partnerships~

TALLAHASSEE - Florida finalized a historic number of public adoptions this fiscal year, a trend state leaders hope to sustain with a media and grassroots campaign called "Explore Adoption."

Figures released today indicate Florida set a new state adoption record by finalizing 3,674 adoptions in fiscal year 2007-08, which ended June 30, up from 3,079 in the last fiscal year. The previous state adoption record, 3,389, was set in fiscal year 2003-04.

"This is a historic moment in the life of our state, but more important, it is a life altering moment for 3,674 children," Department of Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth said. "Thanks to thousands of adoptive families across the state, these children can finally say 'I'm home' and know the love and support they deserve."

Butterworth credited more than 20 community-based care organizations and their partners, working in cooperation with DCF staff, for creating a public adoption system that engages local communities and creates a sense of responsibility for local children in care.

Chief Child Advocate Jim Kallinger said the state's new campaign, "Explore Adoption," will help continue the positive trend by focusing on the children who wait the longest for adoptive homes: Teens and older children, sibling groups and children with disabilities.

In the two months since the campaign launched, the state's adoption hotline, 1-800-96-ADOPT, has received a record number of calls. The campaign includes television and radio spots that are airing statewide in English and Spanish and a 30-minute television special featuring the stories of three Florida families. The program will air statewide on network affiliate and cable television stations, including as a Video On Demand option, beginning in August. For a complete listing of stations and airdates, visit www.adoptFlorida.org.

In addition to the media campaign, "Explore Adoption" has forged partnerships with more than 25 organizations, which are promoting adoption of Florida's children to their members.

"The campaign focuses on the children who wait the longest for homes," Kallinger said. "Our hope is that the list of children waiting to get adopted will decrease each and every day. And we will measure future success in terms of shortening the wait for older children, sibling groups and children with disabilities."

Every year, about 3,000 Florida children become available for adoption when a court permanently severs ties to their birth parents due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. Of those, 40 percent are adopted by relatives, and another 40 percent are adopted by their foster parents. The remaining children require diligent recruitment efforts locally and across the state to find a permanent family that is a match for each child or sibling group.

To learn more about the Governor's adoption initiative, please visit www.adoptflorida.org.


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