Ramsey County is kicking off a five-year campaign today aimed at recruiting adoptive parents for children in need of permanent homes.
Officials say there are at least 80 children and teens who are waiting to be adopted every day in the county. Adoption wait times are twice as long as the state average.
Janine Moore, who directs the county's children and family services division, said the county has already begun surveying youth and community parents on their needs.
"In addition to that, we've put together community forums with current foster parents to say, 'If you've had a child placed in your home, what would support your desire to adopt that child? How can we assist that particular foster parent in considering to adopt that child?'" Moore said.
Moore said the program will focus on increasing the pool of families who reflect the race and ethnicity of children.
"Our recruitment efforts are focused on the African-American community, but at the same time we're trying to build our base of families that are willing to adopt any child," Moore said. "Our focus is to find an adoptive home for every child who is waiting in Ramsey County."
Moore said more than half of the children seeking adoption are African-American, and many are teenagers.
The county is using a $2 million federal grant to pay for the recruitment program.
Tonight, Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter will be the keynote speaker at a kickoff event geared toward prospective parents who want to learn more about the adoption process. The event is open to the public and will be at the Wilder Foundation center in St. Paul at 5 p.m.