More Md. Kids Placed In Homes

State's Adoption Agencies, Including City's, Surpass Goals

July 26, 2009|By Olivia Bobrowsky | Olivia Bobrowsky,Olivia.bobrowsky@baltsun.com

The Baltimore Department of Social Services found families for 384 children during fiscal 2009, beating its adoption goal for the first time since 2002.

Baltimore children count for almost half of Maryland's total adoptions, according to the state Department of Human Resources. Statewide, the department finalized 770 adoptions, topping its goal of 707.

"It's a huge accomplishment for our local departments and particularly Baltimore City, which has struggled before to achieve its adoptions goal," Brenda Donald, DHR secretary, said.

Baltimore completed 297 adoptions in fiscal 2008, well below a goal of 411. The state completed 617 adoptions in fiscal 2008, missing its target of 654.

"There is a heightened sense of urgency to find families for children in need," said DHR spokeswoman Nancy Lineman. "Our staff and all of our coalition partners [social workers, foster parents, the courts and the children] heard that message loud and clear and they responded appropriately."

Donald and Molly McGrath, the director of Baltimore City Department of Social Services, focused on finding permanent homes for children, rather than foster care or group homes, Lineman said.

Lineman credited the success in adoptions to a new focus on finding permanent homes for children and improving the quality of foster care.

In 2007, Donald launched an initiative called Place Matters. Among its objectives is minimizing the length of a child's stay in foster care and placing children with relatives whenever possible.

This has reduced the number of Maryland children in foster care from 10,300 in 2007 to fewer than 8,800 in 2009, and the number in group homes from 1,900 to fewer than 1,200, Donald said.

Of 24 jurisdictions under DHR, 15 exceeded their objectives and two exactly met their goals. Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties surpassed their goals; Anne Arundel fell short by four adoptions.

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