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Official Pleads for More Adoptions : Foster Care Only Temporary: 'These Kids Need Homes'

November 23, 1985|SIBYL JEFFERSON | Times Staff Writer

The need for "permanency" in a child's life is important, especially for children in foster homes, according to a federal Department of Health and Human Services official speaking in Orange County this week.

"Foster care is temporary," said Dorcas Hardy, assistant secretary for Human Development Services. "These kids need homes."

Hardy, who was in Orange County drumming up support for National Family Week and Adoption Week, said all children need a stable family environment. That means that "to the best of our ability, we should be building families," not breaking them up, she said.

Hardy said there are more than 37,000 children in foster care statewide. Of that number, 7,300 are legally free for adoption.

And because 90% or more are children who have special needs--many are older, minority members, victims of abuse or neglect or have physical handicaps--it is more difficult to find permanent homes for them, she said.

Hardy described the average child in foster homes today as a 10 1/2-year-old male from a minority group.

She said that in 1978 there were 500,000 children in foster care nationwide. Even though that number has declined to 265,000--a decline attributable to a national push to find homes for foster children--Hardy says that is not enough.

Aside from finding homes for the children, Hardy said she is looking for volunteers to act as court-appointed advocates to help move children through the judicial process. She said the clearance process for foster children often takes as long as a year.

But Hardy also encouraged corporations, church groups, sororities and fraternities and other interest groups to get involved by adopting a child or recruiting families to adopt a child.

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