Hope Reunited is a project of Live2Give Hope that will begin assisting the community in late 2018. The mission of Lebanon Reunited is to help relieve the burden on the local foster care system by helping to reunite foster children with their biological families.
In Laclede County alone, there are over 80 children per year removed to foster care, an average of 7.8 children per 10,000 children residing in the county, per month (1). Laclede County’s numbers are double the state’s average of 4 per 10,000 per month. Laclede County ranks as the 28th highest for monthly removals in the state, out of 115 counties. The overwhelming majority of children are removed due to neglect, drug use, or a combination of both. Of those children in foster care in Laclede County, only 31% are in relative care, living with family-members like grandparents or aunts and uncles. Only about 50% of these children are reunified with their families at the end of a year, while the state average is 65%, making Laclede County the 78th lowest in reunification rates out of 115 counties.
Lebanon Reunited aims to address the overburdened system in a variety of ways.
- Reuniting children with their biological parents.
- Helping biological parents understand the legal system
- Providing resources to help them regain custody
- In cases where the parents are unable, reuniting the children with biological relatives.
- Identifying willing relatives
- Helping those relatives navigate the legal system
- Addressing the underlying issues of drug addiction and poverty.
- Providing access to counseling and other free resources provided by other local organizations
- Offering access to job training and search programs offered by other local organizations
- Offering access to financial and similar resources such as clothing, food, and financial assistance offered through a variety of other programs
Lebanon Reunited’s goal is to reduce the numbers of children languishing in care by helping biological parents navigate the legal system and helping them to understand their rights and responsibilities. Within 3 years, our goal is to increase the 12-month reunification rate in Laclede County to 55% or more and to increase the relative care rate to at least 35%. At 5 years, our goal is to increase the reunification rate to 65%, the state average. Ultimately, we hope to surpass the state average for reunification.
(1) Data retrieved August 28th, 2018 from Fostering Court Improvement http://fosteringcourtimprovement.org/mo/County/Laclede/