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Shane has a loving and affectionate spirit. He is nonverbal but quick to let you know his feelings through smiles and hugs.

Shane enjoys individual play and is particularly attached to his soccer ball. He likes to roll it around with his hand. He also enjoys coloring and finger painting.

When he visits the park, he goes straight to the swing set to soar back and forth. He enjoys watching SpongeBob and Alvin and the Chipmunks. He also enjoys listening to all types of music. Watch him here in his music class.

Shane is a happy young man who is very determined and does not give up easily. He needs a committed family with that same determination that will be able to love him unconditionally and meet all of his needs in a safe, consistent, nurturing and permanent environment.

Do you know a high school senior looking for scholarships?

HEMI, or Higher Education Mentoring Initiative, is our partner in helping foster teens finish high school and get into post-secondary education. 

HEMI recommends Scholly, calling it the "boldest and baddest" scholarship matching platform out there. It's simple, accurate and full of scholarship management tools.

Scholly connects students with scholarships for which they're eligible without the students having to do so much legwork.

Two really wonderful adoptions this week

Thursday was a great day for us - we were privileged to watch seven kids in foster care be adopted into two families.

The Sanders family of Forest Park attracted a lot of media attention because they adopted six children, in addition to their five biological children. Yes, that's 5 + 6 = 11.

Christina and Christopher Sanders with their 11 children.

But earlier in the morning, our wonderful Monarika, 17, was adopted by Karen Pickett Hedges, a woman she met when she moved into the group home where Karen works.
Monarika and her new mom.

Both were happy occasions, to be sure. But they also highlight two very important needs we have - foster families that are willing to take sibling groups and older teens. Often, foster families wait for babies and younger children while our more pressing needs are homes willing to take older kids and kids who want to stay with their siblings.

Judge Ralph Winkler, who presided over the adoptions, said he hopes attention to this great day prompts others to step up and foster.

"Don't be afraid," he said. "If it's on your heart to adopt or foster, don't wait."

New push underway to find guardians for young adults and seniors
Local children and senior citizens served by Hamilton County Job and Family Services need guardians who can help them make life and medical decisions.
Young adults with developmental disabilities who age out of the child welfare system at age 21 are often unable to make decisions for themselves. The same is true of senior citizens (over age 60) suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's disease. If there are no family members to help, these individuals require legal guardians.
Guardians are appointed through probate court. In Hamilton County, when a child turns 18 years of age and requires guardianship, they can be placed on a lengthy waiting list for guardians. Hamilton County JFS also has to seek guardianship for senior citizens involved with its Adult Protective Services program. 
Guardianship is important for a person's quality of life. Guardians make all day-to-day decisions of a personal nature on behalf of the individual, including medical and dental treatment, behavior-support strategies, work, residential placement and quality-of-life decisions. Without a guardian, a child or senior citizen does not have someone to make critical decisions about their medical care.

Anyone can become a legal guardian. Guardians must fill out required paperwork, consent to criminal background checks, complete online or in-person training and submit bi-annual reports to the local probate court. For more information, and to find the necessary paperwork, visit the Hamilton County Probate Court web site. To become a guardian of someone in the agency's Adult Protective Services program, contact Stephanie Hull at 946-2369. 
There are free, in-person  trainings May 11 and July 13. The Adult Guardian Fundamentals training runs from 8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is being held in Batavia, Hamilton and Columbus.

There is a great need for guardians in Hamilton County. Can you help?

From our director: Our numbers are skyrocketing

HCJFS Director Moira Weir is asking for the community's help.

We screened in 732 allegations of child abuse in the month of January, the largest monthly total in at least a decade. We screened in 699 reports during February. This followed a very busy last half of 2016, when we screened in 3,794 reports, 1,101 more than during the first half of the year.

Our custody numbers and foster care numbers are hitting highs we haven't seen since the early 1990s. We now have about 300 children available for adoption - that number held steady at 200 for more than a decade.

How can you help? Number one, ask a parent or the child if they need help. Maybe they need a break for a day, or for you to point them in the direction of resources that can help. Of course, if you suspect abuse, call 241-KIDS, our emergency child abuse reporting line.
There are other ways, too:
  • Become a foster or adoptive parent
  • Provide respite care to give foster parents a break
  • Train to be a CASA or guardian ad litem
  • Become a mentor through the Higher Education Mentoring Initiative
  • Supportive letters, comments in media and social media
  • Donate to the FAMILY Fund (hcjfs.org/familyfund)