While May is being celebrated as National Foster Care Month, Governor Charlie Crist declared the first week of the month to be Reunification Week.
“Florida is honoring the mothers and fathers who worked so hard to change their lives and make their homes safe because they wanted to bring their children home again,” said Governor Crist. “These parents are heroes to their children.”
Family Services of Metro Orlando kicked off Reunification Week by hosting its first annual Reunification Day Picnic at Mentoring and Motivating Youth of America in Orlando on May 1. The Reunification Day Picnic honored 11 families who had spent more than six months working to complete their family case plans.
Family Services of Metro Orlando helped more than 400 children reunify with their families in 2009 by providing the necessary parenting classes and trainings to their parents. Nearly half, 48 percent, of all children who left foster care in 2009 achieved permanency through reunification.
The event featured family fun activities including clowns, face painting and a live DJ Children also played in a jump house and an obstacle course.
Greg Kurth, Family Services’ Chief Executive Officer, greeted, thanked and presented an award to each family. Case workers from Devereux, One Hope United, Children’s Home Society and Youth and Family Alternatives were also recognized for being a hero to a family.
“The first love these children have ever known is the strongest one they will ever know,” said Greg Kurth. “Reunification gives them a chance to grow up knowing how special that is.”
The event was coordinated by Danielle Collette, family team conferencing manager. Volunteers from Devereux, One Hope United, Children’s Home Society, Youth and Family Alternatives and Riverbend Community Church made the event possible, along with donations from Coca-Cola, Vitamin Water and Darden Restaurants.