Second Annual 'Home for the Holidays' Helps More Children Visit Relatives
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. - Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon today announced that more than 200 foster children in Florida will be able to spend time with relatives living outside Florida this holiday season. Under the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children, Children's Legal Services' attorneys and case managers work through the judicial system to allow foster children to visit out-of-state relatives.
"Holidays are a time for families to be together, and foster children love their families even if circumstances keep them apart," said Secretary Sheldon. "Whenever we can reunify families for the holidays, that's a priority. The laws of different states make that a challenge, but a lot of caring people have worked hard to get interstate cooperation to make these visits happen."
Secretary Sheldon praised dependency judges, case managers and local community-based care organizations for making these visits a reality for Florida's foster children. "Thanks to the dedication of all of our partners in the child welfare system, we are able to make this holiday season brighter for the children we serve."
In addition to the 205 children who were able to visit relatives outside of Florida, 259 children were permanently placed with their families in other states in time for the holidays. The work of these child welfare officials also made it possible for more than 350 children in out of home care in Florida to spend the holidays with their families in state.
Additionally, dependency judges, case managers and Department staff are working to finalize 477 placements for Florida's foster children with relatives throughout the state. During the 2007 and 2008 holiday seasons, more than 750 children in out of home care have been able to visit relatives both in state and out of state through the Home for the Holiday's initiative. Former Department of Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth initiated this project in November 2007.
For more information on the Department of Children and Families, visit http://www.myflorida.com/cf_web/.