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Newsroom Foster Families Enjoy Informational Appreciation Night at Topeka Zoo
5/14/2018

Currently, there are more than 7,500 children in foster care, and approximately 2,700 family foster homes in Kansas. It is always the goal of the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) to keep children in their homes, when safely possible. When removal is necessary, we rely on loving foster parents who are ready and willing to accept children on a temporary basis. 

Every year, DCF hosts a foster care informational fair at the Kansas State Capitol to highlight the need for more foster homes. This year, the informational fair was held at the Topeka Zoo, and had a family focus. 

On Saturday, May 12, Lieutenant Governor Tracey Mann, DCF Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel and its partners held a press conference at the Topeka Zoo, to celebrate foster parents and call attention to the need for more foster parents. Following the press conference, foster families were invited to enjoy a cookout, explore the zoo and participate in fun activities, including a zoo-wide scavenger hunt. 

“This year, we wanted to focus on our families because they are every day heroes,” said Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel. “They open up their hearts and homes to children in need, and we just wanted to take the time to express how grateful we are for their dedication and passion for Kansas kids.”

Informational booths and tables were spread throughout the zoo, and were sponsored by KVC Kansas, Saint Francis Community Services (SFCS), TFI Family Services, Kansas Foster and Adoptive Parents Association (KFAPA), The Shelter, Inc., Kansas Family Advisory Network (KFAN), Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, Kansas Youth Advisory Council (KYAC), DCCCA, Inc., DCF Licensing and Independent Living, Foster Kansas Kids and Kansas Kids @ GEAR UP. KVC and SFCS sponsored the meal and the Topeka Zoo provided free admittance to the foster families. 

“The fun-filled evening was just a small token of our appreciation for these children and families,” said Lieutenant Governor Tracey Mann. “Governor Colyer, Secretary Meier-Hummel and I are committed to improving our child welfare systems so we can best support these children and families.” 

Basehor foster parents Justin and Sarah Oberndorfer, were one of 16 different families that attended the Foster Care Informational Fair. 

“Currently we have seven kids in our home. As we added kids into our home, as we brought in more and more different placements, our hearts continued to expand, continued to grow,” said Justin Oberndorfer.  

David Brown and Tricia Martin, foster parents from Wyandotte County, also attended the event and shared their perspective about supporting biological families alongside children in foster care. 

“We didn’t go into foster care thinking we were going to partner with biological families and advocate for them…but it became quite obvious to me that every time we have a kid come into care, we see a child in crisis. We don’t see that parent in crisis,” said Brown. “The same things that these children need—consistency, love, they need to trust that no matter what they do, they are going to come out of it with a family that still loves and still cares—these parents are hurting and need all of this as well.” 

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent in Kansas, please visit www.fosterkskids.org. You can also call 1-844-380-2009. 

FOSTER CARE STATISTICS:
There are currently 7,540 children in foster care in Kansas.
Approximately 2,700 family foster homes are licensed in Kansas.
Approximately 400 children are available for adoption in the state.
88 percent of children in foster care are placed in a family-like setting.
The average age of a child in foster care is nine.
41 percent of children in foster care are under six; 14 percent are 16 or older.
Children who will be reunited with their parents spend an average of nine months in            foster care.

To be a foster parent you must:
Be at least 21
Pass background checks
Have sufficient income
Participate in a family assessment
Complete training
Obtain sponsorship
Complete first aid training
Obtain a license through DCF

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Two children pet a snake at the Topeka Zoo. 

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Lieutenant Governor Tracey Mann thanks foster families for their dedication to Kansas kids.