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Lighting the Way: Raising awareness to foster children in Missouri

The Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association held a special balloon releasing ceremony to raise awareness to many Missouri children who are in foster care. KRCG 13 Photo.

May is considered Foster Care Awareness Month.

The Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association (CMFCAA) held a special balloon releasing ceremony to raise awareness to many Missouri children who are in foster care.

The ceremony was held at Thorpe Gordon Elementary School Wednesday evening. There were foster children and parents at the ceremony as well as children who have been adopted and found their forever homes.

"Kids that go from place to place lose hope that they're not going to be returned home or that they're not loved or cared about and we're not concerned about them that's just not trueI think Central Missouri does care about our kids," Executive Director of CMFCAA Deanna Alonso said.

There are more than 13,500 children in Missouri's foster care system.

To show a visual representation of those children there were around 130 balloons released into the sky.

Each one represented 100 children in Missouri foster care.

Alonso said there's currently more children in foster care than ever before and explains the need for foster families is at an all-time high.

"There are more kids in care in the state of Missouri than we do have placements for kids," Alonso said. "There is a majority of the kids that are over the age of nine and older who are in residential treatment facilities because they've been abused and neglectedthey're not in homes, they're in institutions and we can do better than that."

CMFCAA also unveiled they're bringing two family finding programs into their organization to aid in finding children and youths homes.

One is called Extreme Recruitment and has been mentioned in Time Magazine. The other is called 30 Days to Family.

Extreme Recruitment is basically a race to find youths and kids permanency by using private investigators.

Organizers try to find a home for the children or youths within 12-20 weeks.

30 Days to Family is a short-term investigation to work with a child to search for their relatives to find possible placement options and support. Investigators hope to identify at least 80 relatives in each case.

Kurt Valentine who's the Cole County Chief Juvenile Officer attended the ceremony to show support for foster kids and parents.

"The Juvenile Office and the Children's Division we're kind of on the end of it when everything is going wrong and all we see a lot of times is just the bad part when we're taking kids out of the home," Valentine said. "The foster parents, it's nice to be around them and nice to come to these events because you see the good things that are happening. You see these people who are taking these kids into their homes and showing them love and it's great to see that. I mean we see the unhappy part...it's nice to see the happy part."

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent or would like to adopt a child visit ccfosteradopt.com for more information on how to do so.

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