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‘Coming Home’ highlights need for adoption and foster families in Highland Lakes

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

BURNET — As the Burnet County attorney, Eddie Arredondo sees firsthand the importance of a strong, local foster-care system.

But as the number of youths needing foster care outpaces the number of local foster families, he watches as many children leave the immediate area for that necessary and important care.

“If we can keep the kids here in our own community, while the adults and courts work out what’s going to happen in their future, it would be so much better for the kids and everybody involved,” Arredondo said. “We know that kids who are removed from their homes and placed in foster care do much better when they can stay in their own area, hopefully, even in their own school.”

The key is finding more foster families.[box]IF YOU GO
WHAT: ‘Coming Home’ Adoption Awareness Day
WHEN: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 9
WHERE: Burnet County Courthouse Annex, 1701 E. Polk St. (Texas 29) in Burnet
FOR MORE: Call Burnet County Attorney Eddie Arredondo at (512) 756-5476[/box]

The Marble Falls Daybreak Rotary Club is hosting an Adoption Awareness Day — which also highlights the need for foster families — 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Burnet County Courthouse Annex, 1701 E. Polk St. (Texas 29).

Last spring, the Rotarians began a push for more awareness within the Highland Lakes about the need for foster families and adoption. Arredondo explained under Texas law, when Child Protective Services removes a child from his or her home because of abuse or neglect, the courts and state have about one year to find a permanent solution to the youth’s care.

“This can mean reunification with the parents or, even, adoption,” he said.

The year between those two dates can be tumultuous for the child as the courts and the adults try to sort it out. During the process, a judge might assign the child a Court Appointed Special Advocate, who basically represents that youth and acts as the court’s eyes and ears regarding the child during all the proceedings.

Stability is what these children need, Arredondo said.

Ed Cole, a Daybreak Rotary member, said the purpose of the Adoption Awareness Day is to help the community understand the need for foster families and adoptive parents and explain how people can get involved.

“There’s a tremendous need for foster parents and people interested in adoption right here in our community,” Cole said.

The event’s theme is “Coming Home.” Arredondo said the plan is to create a homecoming feel to highlight the importance of a stable home for these children.

There will be fun activities scattered throughout the day. Houston Texans cheerleader Kelli Harral will attend, and people can have their photos taken with her.

At 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., officials will hold informational meetings for people interested in foster care or adoption.

And Judge Guildford Jones will actually formalize several adoptions.

“We have about 11 children who will be adopted by six different families,” Arredondo said. “It’s a good opportunity for people to see the excitement and joy in these children’s and their families’ lives.”

Along with getting the public out, the Rotarians hope Highland Lakes community leaders attend. Cole explained one of the goals of the club is to continue emphasizing the importance of foster care and adoption, even after the event is over. One way to do that is to get community leaders interested so they’ll go back to their groups, organizations and churches and spread the message.

“We’re really sincere about this,” Cole said. “It’s something we plan to continue to work on.”

Arredondo agreed.

“Our club is committed long term to this,” he said. “And it’s not just the awareness campaign. We’ll support (the families, foster organizations and CPS) any way we can. They need to know the community is here to support them.”

Along with the awareness day, the Daybreak Rotary Club is creating a speaker pool for other organizations that want to learn more about foster care and adoption. Those groups can contact the Rotarians to schedule a speaker.

Call Arredondo at (512) 756-5476 for more information on Coming Home or foster care.

daniel@thepicayune.com