For Immediate Release: Thursday, June 30, 2022
DSS Media Contact: Steve Long, email@example.com or 605.773.3165
Stronger Families Together initiative hits first year goal
PIERRE – Governor Kristi Noem’s initiative to recruit 300 new foster families in South Dakota successfully surpassed its first year goal.
Since the launch of Stronger Families Together in May 2021 through May 2022, 304 new families have become licensed foster families, and many more have inquired about the process.
“I am so appreciative of all the families that stepped up as foster families and those who are still contemplating opening their hearts and homes to children in need,” said Noem. “While we’re making progress, there is still more to do. I’m renewing my call to all South Dakotans to consider how they can support children and families.”
As the initiative enters its second year, the Department of Social Services (DSS) and its partner in the project, South Dakota Kids Belong, will work to recruit 300 more families each year on the way to a four-year goal of 1,200 new licensed foster and adoptive families in South Dakota by June 2025.
Foster families care for children while their birth parents work through issues that make the home unsafe. The goal of foster care is reunifying children with their birth parents when it is safe to do so.
“We have seen the struggles from both sides, what the kids are going through and what the parents are going through,” said new foster parent Amanda Larsen of Sioux Falls. “We want to be a support and resource for families to help them get their kids back. We want to meet families where they are and be present with them.”
Stronger Families Together is about far more than numbers and goals – it is about caring for children and providing support for families in a time of need. Caring for other families is a tradition in South Dakota, and the number of new foster families confirms the strength of that tradition may be stronger than ever.
“Being a foster or adoptive family isn’t always easy but it is definitely worth it knowing you have helped provide stability, love, and support when children needed it most,” said DSS Cabinet Secretary Laurie Gill. “Not everyone is called to be a foster family, but there are other ways to get involved and help children, foster families, and birth families.”
In addition to recruiting foster families, the initiative seeks to connect the faith and business communities with opportunities to help. Since May 2021, 71 businesses have pledged to help, 31 churches have completed a Sunday focused on the need for more foster and adoptive families, ways to help these families, and a next steps event.
Wrap Around Services are provided by individuals to foster, kinship, adoptive, and birth families. Thirteen Wrap Around teams have been launched across the state, and a total of 177 Wrap Members have volunteered to do things like bringing foster families a meal, providing respite care, or just simply offering up a prayer or word of encouragement.
To learn more about becoming a foster parent, visit StrongerFamiliesTogether.sd.gov.