Pep Rally Highlights Need for Local Foster Parents

For Immediate Release: November 14, 2012
Contact: Nicole Stookey, Northwest Region Communications Director, (850) 509-2675

Pep Rally Highlights Need for Local Foster Parents
 “Each One Reach One” rally launches new initiative to recruit, retain quality homes for local children in foster care

PANAMA CITY – More than 100 foster families and adoptive youth, child welfare professionals, members of the faith community, school personnel, civic and business organizations, and child and family advocates today rallied around area foster parents at the “Each One Reach One” event. The pep rally celebrated the successes of the local fostering community and raised awareness of the critical need for local foster homes.

Currently, there are more than 170 children in foster care in Florida’s Fourteenth Judicial Circuit, which includes Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson and Washington counties. Every day, children enter foster care through no fault of their own but because they cannot safely remain in their own homes due to abuse or neglect. These children are in need of a stable and supportive home where they are nurtured and loved so they can grow into successful adults.

“Our foster parents are highly committed, well-trained, patient and persistent caregivers for children who need love,” said Tanya Wilkins, Governor’s Office Volunteer Advocate for Foster Care and Adoption, during her keynote. “Foster children come in all shapes, sizes, colors and ages, and so do foster families. We need more of these dedicated, loving families who can open their hearts and homes to our vulnerable children.”

The Bay High marching band and cheerleaders kicked off the pep rally, setting an energetic tone for the event. Speakers also included Gerald Waters, Florida State Foster and Adoptive Parent Association Regional Vice President; Ted Roberts, a local foster parent; Dr. Peter Claussen, a local pediatric dentist; and Thomas Fair, Tallahassee Community College student and former foster youth.

Local celebrities and child welfare professionals encouraged people to “Call Me Maybe” in a new foster parent recruitment video debuted at the rally. Visit the DCF YouTube Channel at http://youtu.be/7gibKErEzUo to watch.

“If I can do it as a single dad, a military man, you can do it,” said Ted Roberts, a foster parent who made the decision to foster while actively serving in the Air Force. He opened his home to eight-year old Mike and later adopted him. Now 24, Mike is a Gulf Coast State College graduate and attending Florida Atlantic University. “There is a child for you, and every child needs a family.”

People who aren’t ready to be foster parents can still support fostering. Other ways include mentoring, providing free services to children in foster care, providing scholarships for camps or other events, or becoming a Guardian ad Litem. For more information on how you can support the children and families in our community, please visit www.flpartnersforpromise.com.

DCF, Big Bend Community Based Care, Life Management Center, Children’s Home Society, Guardian ad Litem, Anchorage Children’s Home and United Way of Northwest Florida hosted the rally as a call to action for child welfare professionals and community partners to act on their role in recruiting, retaining and supporting quality foster parents.

The “Each One Reach One” rally is one of a wide array of efforts under the statewide “Fostering Florida’s Future” initiative by DCF and our community partners to increase the number and quality of foster homes in Florida and ensure our children have every chance at becoming successful adults.

For more information on fostering in Florida, please call Life Management Center toll-free at 1-866-769-9481 and visit www.fosteringflorida.com.

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Local foster and adoptive families run through a banner at the "Each One Reach One" pep rallyTanya Wilkins, Governor's Office Advocate for Foster Care and Adoption, and former foster youth John FairCrowd: More than 100 attended the "Each One Reach One" rally to launch a new foster parent recruitment and retention program