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Va. campaign to match 1,000 children

5/21/2013, 1:23 p.m.
A crowd of approximately 200 at the governor’s mansion helped launch the Virginia Adopts Campaign for 1,000. Among those in ...

A crowd of approximately 200 at the governor’s mansion helped launch the Virginia Adopts Campaign for 1,000.

Among those in attendance was the mansion’s resident, Gov. Bob McDonnell, along former mansion resident, former Virginia first lady, Anne Holton, wife of former governor, Tim Kaine. Holton currently serves as director of Great Expectations, a program that helps Virginia’s foster youth complete high school, gain access to a community college education and transition successfully from the foster care system to living independently.

Also in attendance were several foster and adoptive parents, including Ernestine Slade, who has retired as a foster parent after providing a home for 63 children from Isle of Wight, Yorktown and Portsmouth and was named National Foster Parent of the Year in 1998.

The event at the executive mansion also celebrated May as foster care month in Virginia.

The Virginia Adopts Campaign for 1,000 has a goal of matching 1,000 children currently in foster care in Virginia with 1,000 adoptive families.

The governor encouraged those in attendance to share the facts about children who need foster families and adoptive homes in their churches and with organizations in their community. He also encouraged attendees to befriend a child or help to mentor a child with an organization like Great Expectations or provide respite care to his or her family. One way to get involved is to partner and connect with organizations that work on behalf of youth who need forever families or to consider becoming foster or adoptive parents themselves.

The event also featured recognitions for Joan Ohl, the senior director with Casey Family Programs and former Commissioner for the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, US Department of Health and Human Services. Casey is supporting the Virginia Department of Social Services’ activities related to the Virginia Adopts campaign, and activities to promote permanency planning for children in care, including older youth and long-staying children. Another recognition went to Jason Dandridge who heads up the Capital One Adoption Network, which has been named one of the top 100 companies for adoption by the Dave Thomas foundation.

The “heart gallery”, a traveling photographic and audio exhibit created to find forever families for children in foster care, was on display on the mansion drive. After the governor’s and Holton’s remarks, Secretary of the Commonwealth Janet Kelly spoke about her experience as an adoptive parent and encouraged others to consider adopting or fostering.