from the campaign
Quarles’ Bold Plan for Foster Care and Adoption
“With more than 8,000 kids currently in foster care, we need to do more to help these kids find their way to their forever families. I’ve got a Kentucky Commonsense Plan to do this.”
Kentucky’s foster care system is struggling. We have more than 8,000 children who are in state custody. I’ve spoken with numerous foster and adoptive parents who say that the system is too overloaded, and the procedures too slow, to give these kids the care they need and deserve. Kentucky needs to speed up its processes and expand its pool of certified foster homes so Kentucky’s foster children can find their way to their forever families. Many families go into this process have found it tedious, overwhelming, and downright expensive. We should make it easier for families wishing to adopt or bring in a foster child, not harder. I have a four-part plan to make that happen.
First, if we want to improve foster care and adoption in Kentucky, we need more social workers to help provide the assistance needed by these families. Many of the social workers that I talk to are quite simply burnt out and have too many cases to be effective in helping those children. We need to find new ways to attract more talent to our state and quality candidates who have the passion and ability to improve this system. This will only help improve the quality of outcome for these children who are in need of real help from qualified workers.
Second, we can shorten the period of time a child languishes in the system. Any amount of time that a child is in the system and not in the arms of a loving family is too long. I’ll push legislators to reduce the waiting period so that kids aren’t required to spend two years or more in limbo. The sooner we can place kids in good homes, the sooner they can begin the transition into a new community.
Third, it’s time that we entirely reorganize the Department for Health and Family Services when it comes to this topic. I want this conversation to be led by experts and current adoption and foster care parents so that we can learn from their experiences. Fortunately, we have many leaders in the General Assembly who also share this vision and I know will be strong partners in this effort.
Fourth, I will challenge leaders in every church across Kentucky to step up to the plate. Many of our congregations have a long tradition of supporting children in foster care, and we need to build on that legacy. If every church in Kentucky would identify just one family that would go through the process to be certified as a foster home—with a focus on hosting teenagers, which is the age group where the need is the greatest, and a goal of permanently adopting those children—we could achieve dramatic improvements in the quality of care we provide. And it’s not just that one family in every congregation who needs to answer the call; I will challenge the entire congregation to come alongside and support that family along the way—with their time, their money, and their prayers.
I want to be a Governor who tackles head-on the challenges facing Kentucky’s foster care and adoption system. Together, we can get it done.