‘South Dakota Kids Belong’ helps children find forever homes

A new organization to the Black Hills is helping South Dakota kids get adopted and providing support to foster families.

The state of South Dakota has around 1,500 children who are in the foster care system. Of these children, on any given day nearly 70 are legally-free for adoption and are waiting for their forever family. A South Dakota chapter of America’s Kids Belong is now in the Northern Hills, an organization that is giving children a face, a voice and a pathway to belonging.

When parental rights have been terminated from a child who is in custody of the state, and no other kinship can take them, the children go up for adoption. They are searching for a forever family – a place to belong. But with the shortage of foster parents in South Dakota, many of those children are at risk of aging out of the system with no family support after they turn 18.

That is where America’s Kids Belongs is stepping in to help. When Kristi Woolsey of Belle Fourche was approached to begin this organization in South Dakota, she said yes, as a foster and adoptive parent herself, the issue is dear to her heart. She has seen the need first hand.

Woosley who is the Project Manager of South Dakota Kids Belong  says, “The need for foster parents is huge, just this last week there was three children that didn’t have a home to go to in this area. And so there was people trying to find a place for these kids and we did not have a foster family that was able to take them and they were all filled up and so the need for more foster families we need at least 20 to 30 more in this area (Northern Hills).”

One of mission’s of America’s Kids Belong is to make each child up for adoption a video to tell potential parents about themselves- giving them a voice “I belong project.”

Another mission of the organization is to wrap around current foster families. Four families wrap around one family and does a good deed for them at least once a month, not only helping with basic needs, but also for social support.

Another outreach is recruiting and training potential foster families.

Storage Unit in Spearfish for foster family needs

Woosley adds, “The idea of becoming a foster or adoptive parent is sometimes overwhelming, it can change your life. It can add another mouth to feed, it can make another basketball practice that you have to take a child to. And sometimes people have kind of an idea that this is gonna be really hard and this child is going to come in with needs that I just cannot meet. People think that foster parents are such great people, which they are, but they’re just normal people – they are normal parents that are saying yes to this child needs.”

Woosley’s hope for the future is that all kids up for adoption in the state find a forever home.

Click here for the South Dakota Kid’s Belong website.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News

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