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Celebrating family and permanency this National Adoption Day

Social Services celebrated National Adoption Day on Nov. 19. Unlike the traditional National Adoption Day (NAD) held around the country where the adoptions celebrated are the ones finalized that day, Ramsey County hosts an event to celebrate all families who have adopted children from foster care in 2022. This year, 87 adoptions have already taken place and we expect a total of 100 to be finalized by the end of December.

Last Saturday, about 18 adoptive families gathered at the Juvenile and Family Justice Center for breakfast, activities, remarks from adoptions staff, Judge JaPaul Harris, Judge Robyn Millenacker and Commissioner Reinhardt, and a magic show by Rick the Magnificent (Ramsey County retiree, Rick Cunningham). Afterwards, families enjoyed a free day of play at the Minnesota Children’s Museum.

See photos of the event

National Adoption Day is always bittersweet. While it’s a day to celebrate new beginnings and the work of our foster care and adoptions workers to provide safe and stable homes to children when they need them most, it’s also a day we grieve that young people had to enter the child protection system in the first place.

Child protection staff first work as hard as possible to keep youth in their homes to sustain family ties that are so essential. Before a child ever enters foster care, our child protection workers do their best to help provide families with resources to overcome barriers so they can remain a healthy family unit. In the situations where it is not possible to keep a child in their home, our adoptions staff work to place children in foster care into forever homes that will ensure they will encounter support and love throughout their life.

In efforts to ensure stability and safety in a child’s existing home, child protection staff and the Early Intervention Team have increased partnerships with families to find culturally appropriate solutions to safety concerns involving children. Staff work with parents, their families and their communities to collaboratively develop honest, detailed, child-focused safety plans that articulate what needs to happen to avoid an out-of-home placement. 

These efforts are making an impact. Numbers of youth entering our child protection system, including investigations, intake, case management, out-of-home placements and adoptions have been trending downward since 2019. See all data in our Open Data Portal’s Children’s Services Dashboard.

Out of Home Placement data

Since the passing of the Families First Prevention Services Act in 2018, foster care staff have been working to keep children safe with their families to avoid the trauma that often occurs when children are placed in out-of-home care. When youth do enter foster care, case workers and licensed providers continue to work with birth families to help make reunification happen through case plans, referrals to community resources, financial support, and regular ongoing supervised and unsupervised visits.

Children and Family Services partners with families and communities to keep children safe at home. When that is not possible, kinship placements are always the priority because children do best when they are placed in family homes. This year, 70% of newly licensed foster care homes are family/kin homes. Today, there are about 500 youth in Ramsey County foster care, and most are placed with family or kin.

If it is determined through the judicial process that children cannot safely return to their birth homes, the process to enter into foster care and find an adoptive home can take a significant amount of time. National statistics show that a child can spend up to four years in foster care while waiting for an adoptive family. There are currently 360 Ramsey County youth in foster care seeking permanency.

While the pandemic paused the NAD event and in-person adoptions until this July, the work of our adoptions staff to secure stable homes for children didn’t miss a beat. Throughout the pandemic years, adoption teams continued working with families in-person, making connections with kids and relatives, and sometimes acting as first responders. Despite the challenges of two and a half years of COVID-19, our adoptions team worked to find permanent homes with families and loving adults for more than 350 youth.

Posted on Tuesday, November 22, 2022 - 9:36 a.m.