Lynne A. Valenti
Cabinet Secretary

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May 9, 2011

South Dakota’s Foster Parents: Committed, Devoted, Supportive and Honorable
May is Foster Parent Appreciation and Awareness Month

PIERRE, S.D. – Foster parents in South Dakota make a world of difference to children and youth who have had to leave their homes through no fault of their own. Foster parenting is a public service in which individuals and families provide safe homes for youth across the state. In honor of their service, May has been designated as Foster Parent Appreciation and Awareness Month in South Dakota and across the nation.

Each month, there are about 1,000 children and youth in foster care from public, private and tribal agencies in South Dakota. Gov. Dennis Daugaard, along with the Department of Social Services, encourages families to open their homes and hearts and give hope to children and youth whose families are in crisis.

“All children need meaningful connections to caring adults who can provide stability and permanency in their lives,” the Governor said.

Gov. Daugaard, former executive director of the Children’s Home Society of South Dakota, continues to advocate for children and youth in difficult situations. “Dedicated foster families help provide the support and opportunities children need to realize their full potential.”

Communities across the state are seeking more foster families to meet the needs of children and youth of all ages, with a greater need for families who will support and care for teenagers, sibling groups, special-needs and medically fragile children, as well as Native American children. Native American foster homes make up 10 percent of the 736 licensed foster homes across South Dakota.

Foster homes allow youth to live together with brothers and sisters, remain in their own neighborhoods, and stay in their schools. Children and youth in foster care need licensed foster families to provide them with the strength and stability it takes to be successful adults.

“Foster parenting is a rewarding opportunity to help young people while their birth families heal,” said Virgena Wieseler, director of the Division of Child Protection Services. “Foster Parent Appreciation and Awareness Month allows us to recognize incredible foster families that make a real difference in the lives of children in South Dakota.”

Many South Dakota communities are honoring and recognizing foster families in a variety of ways.

Those interested in learning more about foster care can call the Department of Social Services at 605-773-3227.