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May 21, 2006

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the launch of a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) designed to encourage the adoption of older children and teens from foster care. The PSAs were developed in collaboration with the Advertising Council, the Adoption Exchange Association and the Collaboration to AdoptUsKids.

Currently, there are approximately 518,000 children in foster care; of these, about 118,000 are available for adoption. Most are members of minority groups, with older African American boys waiting the longest for adoption.

Nearly half (49%) of waiting children are age nine or older. In general, older children and teens stay longer in foster care and are at higher risk for drug use, poor school performance or incarceration. Each year, some 19,000 of these children “age out” of the system without ever being placed into permanent homes.

“This ad campaign represents a significant step in our efforts to promote adoption of older children in foster care,” said HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt. “I am confident, as a result of this campaign, more Americans will step forward to provide loving homes to these older children waiting for adoption.”

The new television, radio, print and Internet PSAs are designed to help prospective parents realize “You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent. There are thousands of teens in foster care who would love to put up with you.” The ads were created pro-bono by kirshenbaum bond + partners.

“This is the first federally funded adoption effort that focuses specifically on finding homes for teens in foster care,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Children and Families Wade F. Horn, Ph.D. “The ads illustrate that in ordinary situations teens just need real people to be their parents.”

This campaign is an extension of the previous award-winning PSA campaign, launched in 2004, which focused on the adoption of children eight and older. During the first 18 months after the launch, more than 6,000 children featured on www.adoptuskids.org were placed into adoptive homes.

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