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Florida Child Adoptions Up

Over the past 10 years, adoptions of Florida children have skyrocketed, more than doubling since 1999.

The numbers of adoptions have climbed steadily over the past 10 years, from 1,400 in Fiscal Year 1999 to 3,776 in the fiscal year that just ended with former Gov. Jeb Bush and current Gov. Charlie Crist having made adoption a priority.

As of July 1, 2009, there were 17,797 children in foster care, down from 29, 280 children in January 2007.

“Our success represents much more than numbers and statistics; it represents the restored hopes and dreams of children who now have safe and loving homes,” Crist said in a statement released Wednesday, which the governor declared as “Explore Adoption Day” in Florida. Crist was traveling around the state with DCF Secretary George Sheldon, making stops in Tallahassee, Jacksonville and Fort Myers for adoption roundtables.

The state has enacted several incentives for families to encourage them to adopt. Adopted children can receive free health care through Medicaid and free tuition to one of the state's universities, colleges or vocational schools. And some families are eligible for a monthly stipend to help defray some of the costs related to adding a child to the family.

The Legislature also approved this year $1.8 million for a one-time adoption benefit of up to $10,000 available to state employees, including those who work at public schools and colleges.

“Most Floridians are unaware of the significant benefits of public adoption, and Explore Adoption has been a great way to help raise awareness,” said Department of Children and Families child advocate Jim Kallinger. “We are finding that families are more likely to consider adoption when they learn what is available.”

Families can go online to www.AdoptFlorida.org to learn more about the children who currently are available for adoption.

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