Oklahoma’s Kids Belong, a non-profit organization helping children in the foster care system, has recently launched activities in the state and appointed Scott Werner as Oklahoma president.
Oklahoma’s Kids Belong will continue the work that America’s Kids Belong (AKB), an organization with a national scope, began in 2015. AKB unites faith, government, business and creative communities in states to solve the foster care and adoption crisis in the U.S.
Scott Werner is a native Oklahoman and owns My Small Wonders Child Development Center in Edmond and other Oklahoma real estate investment and management companies. Werner was previously the executive director of children's ministries at Life.Church and the director of U.S. Church Relations for Compassion International.
“There has never been a day in Oklahoma’s recorded history where a child has not been waiting for a foster family or adopted family,” stated Scott Werner. “I am committed to being a part of changing who waits in our state and beyond.”
In November 2015, Governor Mary Fallin launched the “Oklahoma Fosters” campaign, encouraging the entire state to help with the overwhelming need for foster and adoptive families. Gov. Fallin and the Department of Human Services reached out to the community through the Oklahoma Fosters initiative to help DHS recruit more than 1,000 new, safe, loving foster families by the end of June 2016.
This initiative was a collaborative effort between the Governor's office, DHS, and essential community partners like the 111 Project, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Count Me in for Kids, private providers, and many other organizations. More than 1,080 new families were certified during the year surpassing the initial goal.
“When America’s Kids Belong met with us and they described their vision of partnering the Department of Human Services and Child Welfare to the different sectors in our state, I thought it was an answer to prayer,” said Tricia Howell, Deputy Director of Foster Care and Adoption for Child Welfare Services. “We have seen the results of it already. It is a key factor that helps us develop the foster families and adoptive families that we need for our Oklahoma children.”
AKB is based on successful models in Colorado, where a statewide movement resulted in the reduction of waiting children from 880 to 200, and Virginia, where 1,041 children were matched with permanent families in 2013.
“Oklahoma has so many amazing organizations and residents that work to make their state better,” said Janet Kelly, co-founder of America’s Kids Belong. “We knew that we wanted to bring a sustainable presence to Oklahoma, especially when the Oklahoma Fosters initiative began. We have seen great results with the partnerships, and now with the addition of Scott Werner, we have a deep commitment to bring awareness of the need for adoptive and foster families.”
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