Senator Lankford Applauds Launch of Oklahoma Fosters Initiative
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today applauded Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin for launching the Oklahoma Fosters Initiative, a campaign to recruit more foster and adoptive families for Oklahoma foster children.
“I applaud the new Oklahoma Fosters Initiative to recruit more foster and adoptive families for our children who are in the foster care system,” said Lankford. “Foster children often go through a lot, so we must step up and care for the 11,000 children in our state’s foster system and make sure they have a stable environment to grow and thrive. In America, about 250,000 children enter the foster care system every year – many of these children will reunite with their families but many will remain in foster care, or even ‘age out’ of the foster system.
“There is no substitute for a safe and stable family to the health and well-being of children. To address many of the poor outcomes associated with the foster care experience, and to prevent the ‘age out’ crisis, we must work together to provide families for Oklahoma children. Other states have seen success with initiatives like this, and I’m hopeful that we can drastically reduce the number waiting children by encouraging adoption, stable foster care, and healthy reunification.”
Oklahoma Fosters is a statewide campaign to unite state, tribal and local governments, businesses, nonprofits and the faith-based community to address the high numbers of foster children in Oklahoma. Interested Oklahomans can learn more about becoming a foster or adoptive parent by visiting the Oklahoma Fosters website at www.OklahomaFosters.com and clicking on “Foster Care & Adoption” for information on being a foster or adoptive parent. They also can call the foster parent hotline at 1-800 376-9729.
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, there are about 400,000 children in the American foster care system, of which about 100,000 children are in foster care waiting to be adopted. Each year, more than 20,000 children ‘age out’ of foster care without being adopted at all. According to data on foster children who ‘age out’ of the system, more than one in five will become homeless after age 18; only 58 percent will graduate high school by age 19; and fewer than 3 percent will earn a college degree by age 25. Seventy-one percent of young women who age out are pregnant by 21 years old.
The month of November is National Adoption Month. Lankford serves on the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, and worked for 14 years in student ministry before being elected to Congress in 2010.
Earlier this year, Lankford cosponsored the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act (S.667) to ensure that faith-based child welfare service providers remain able to provide foster care and adoption services in line with their sincerely held religious beliefs. Lankford also supported passage of the Adoptive Family Relief Act (S.1300), which allows the U.S. Department of State to waive fees for adoptive families who must continually renew the visas for their adopted children who remain unable to travel to the United States.