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Florida children’s agency helped kids go home for the holidays

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

More than 3,000 at-risk children will spend the holidays with their birth or adoptive families after a push by the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Agency staff worked with dependency judges and local groups to expedite the reunification of foster kids with their families or relatives, or to facilitate their adoption.

“The heart of our mission is to help families heal and reunify, or, when that is not possible, to find forever homes for children in the welfare system,” Department Secretary Mike Carroll said in a written statement.

“Being with family is an integral part of the holidays, so we are dedicated to making that happen for as many of the children we serve as possible.”

During November — National Adoption Month — the effort placed nearly 1,800 children with their birth or adoptive families, or at least arranged visits with siblings or extended family members.

The figure during December exceeded 1,400 children.

Reunification is an option “when it’s determined that it’s safe for the child to be back home,” agency spokeswoman Jessica Sims said.

Making sure of that is the job of community-based care agencies, attorneys, judges, guardians, foster families, and case managers who expedite background screenings, conduct court proceedings and make travel arrangements.

If families can’t afford any travel involved, the community organizations pick up the tab, the agency said.

Sims said this year’s efforts were among the most successful since former Secretary Bob Butterworth launched the program in 2007.

You can learn more about the adoption process here.

Michael Moline is a former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal and managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal. Previously, he reported on politics and the courts in Tallahassee for United Press International. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as editor of the Florida Flambeau. His family’s roots in Jackson County date back many generations.

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