Highland County Commissioners proclaimed the month of November as Adoption Month during their meeting on Wednesday and also discussed the ongoing need for foster and adoptive families throughout the county.
Ronda McAdams of Highland County Children Services said this year’s theme is: “We never outgrow the need for family.” She added that the focus is on homes for older kids.
Teens, she said, “are the hardest to place” and often have “a definite lack of hope.”
Currently, McAdams added, Highland County has 24 children of all ages at adoption status.
Last year, 12 children were adopted. This year, a total of 10 kids are expected to be adopted. In comparison, McAdams said about three to four kids were adopted during her first year at Children Services.
She added that the overall amount of cases the organization sees has also more than doubled.
“Everyone sympathizes with the kids,” commissioner Shane Wilkin said. “It’s not their fault that the adults are making the bad decisions.”
McAdams said that Children Services is “very appreciative” of the foster and adoptive families locally, but that, “We do need more homes for our children in Highland County.”
Two local families who have adopted their foster kids were present on Wednesday. The McCollums have adopted four children, three of whom were from Highland County, McAdams said. The Thompsons have adopted three.
“On behalf of everyone here, I just want to say thank you,” Wilkin said. “That’s a great thing.”
Wilkin also discussed how finding homes for local foster children has become a “budget issue.”
In prior meetings, commissioners have discussed the impact of foster care on the county budget, especially when homes have to be found outside of county. The Times-Gazette previously reported that last month commissioners transferred $200,000 from the general fund to Children Services.
Foster care coordinator Jodi Kidder told commissioners Wednesday that she has been meeting with a nationally recognized recruitment mentor and that Children Services will be working with Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, which is a part of the Dave Thomas Foundation.
McAdams described Wendy’s Wonderful Kids as “a very thorough recruitment effort … for hard-to-place kids.”
Kidder added that due to a recent grant, Children Services will be distributing flyers and will also have an advertisement at Star Cinemas. The goal, she said, is to “get more excitement … about this issue.”
“Everybody wins if we can keep (the kids) close to home, especially (the kids),” Kidder said.
For more information about fostering or adoption, contact Kidder at 937-402-5055.
Commissioners also proclaimed Nov. 15 as America Recycles Day. Jennifer Waterman, director of Highland County Recycling and Litter Prevention, said the county wanted to acknowledge the local businesses that have recycling bins on their sites.
Those include the Marshall Mini Mart; the Rocky Fork Truck Stop near Rainsboro; Terry’s Grocery and Pizza in Dodsonville; CM Recycling and Brad’s Garden Center, both in Hillsboro; the Ameri-Stop Food Mart in New Market; and Sunoco in Greenfield.
Waterman added that the county is looking to add a bin in Leesburg as well as others in the Hillsboro area.
The week of Nov. 14-22 was proclaimed National Homeless and Hunger Awareness Week. Highland County Homeless Shelter Director Greg Hawkins said the week’s goal is to educate the community on the “barriers” faced by those without a home.
He added that the shelter is most in need of coats, canned food, and cleaning supplies donations. According to material distributed by Hawkins, the shelter is “gladly accepting donations” of foil wrap, freezer bags, Lysol spray and wipes, 13 and 55-gallon trash bags, and Tupperware.
Hawkins also provided a holiday wish list for the shelter, which includes numerous holiday favorites ranging from turkey and ham to canned sweet potatoes and pies.
In addition, a Bob Evans Community Fundraiser will be held on Nov. 19, according to a flyer distributed by Hawkins. From 7 to 9 p.m. that evening, Bob Evans will donate 15 percent of sales when the fundraiser flyer is presented.
For more information about the fundraiser or donations, contact the homeless shelter at 937-393-0634.
Next week, the Highland County Commissioners will meet on Thursday, Nov. 12, rather than on Wednesday, in observance of Veterans Day.
Reach Sarah Allen at 937-393-3456, ext. 1680, or on Twitter @SarahAllenHTG.