In South Dakota, we help our neighbors. It’s just part of who we are. My parents instilled that in me at a very young age. We’d check on families in our community who were struggling. In fact, when I was a little girl, my parents brought a foster boy into our family.
My foster brother faced some challenges. I remember my parents telling me years later that they wished they would have had more tools, more information, or more training so that they could help him better.
That’s why I have such a heart for foster children. That’s why I’ve made taking care of foster kids such a big priority as governor. That experience taught me an important lesson: what these kids are facing isn’t their fault. Their challenges and traumas are very real.
In South Dakota, we help our neighbors. And when kids and families in our community are struggling, we help them, too. That’s why we launched our “Stronger Families Together” initiative.
“Stronger Families Together” seeks to increase the number of foster parents serving kids in South Dakota. Last year, we set a 5-year high of 238 new foster families in our state. And that’s great news! But we need more. Our goal is to get 300 new families involved in foster care each year over the next 4 years.
We want to increase the number of available foster families so that we don’t have waiting lists for kids waiting to get into a foster home. Instead, we should have waiting lists of parents waiting to bring in a foster child. Every child deserves a safe and loving home. And with “Stronger Families Together,” we’ll help to give them just such a home.
But we need you. Ask yourself and your family if you feel called to serve as a foster family.
Even if you don’t feel that call, we still need you. Foster families need a support structure. They need their community to help them while they’re helping these kids. So ask yourself, what can I give? Maybe it’s a donation. Maybe it’s lifting these families up in prayer. If you’re a business owner, maybe it’s giving discounts to foster families. However you can help, we need you.
More importantly, these kids need you. And their families need you, too. The point of foster care is to give families time to heal; to give kids a safe and loving environment while their parents put whatever hurt or challenge they’re facing behind them. Sometimes the healing process doesn’t work out, and those kids need to be adopted. In those instances, they need you all the more.
South Dakota is a strong state. Over the past year, I’ve come to believe like never before that we’re the strongest state in America. But we can always be stronger. Together, we can give families an opportunity to heal. And together, we can build stronger families across our state by helping out even more kids. Stronger families will lead to stronger communities. And stronger communities will help us build an even stronger South Dakota.