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Adoption touches many lives
Commission marks Adoption Month observances
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In other business, the commission:

• Approved a contract with L&M  Contractors of Great Bend for a bridge replacement project. Kansas Department of Transportation officials opened bids on Oct. 18 for the bridge replacement project approximately one mile east of Great Bend on East Barton County Road, County Engineer Barry McManaman said. L & M Contractors submitted the low bid of $525,429 and KDOT advised that the bid is satisfactory when compared to their estimate and recommended approval of the contract. 

The county’s estimated 20 percent share of the project is $106,000, McManaman said. 

• Heard a report on Veterans Day event hosted by the  Memorial Parks Advisory Committee at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Golden Belt Memorial Park. The Memorial Park is located at 59 NW 50 Road north of Great Bend. 

• Awarded longevity pay to county employees. Longevity pay is a supplemental compensation benefit designed for the employee who has established a long term commitment to public service with Barton County. Once a full-time employee has reached five years of continuous service, that employee will be rewarded longevity in the amount of $3 for each month of service, with half that for part-time employees, said Finance Officer Matt Patzner. 

Longevity payment, which is contingent on budgetary conditions, may be awarded in November of each year.  

This year, 96 employees will share $51,926.50 “in appreciation of their long-term commitment to Barton County,” Patzner said. This came in over $4,000 under what was budgeted.

“With 96 employees, it shows the county is a good place to work,” commission Chairwoman Jennifer Schartz said.

 Recognizing the importance of adoption, the Barton County Commission Monday morning approved a proclamation declaring November as National Adoption Month, Sunday as Adoption Sunday, and Saturday, Nov. 18, as National Adoption Day.  

There are approximately 110,000 children in the United States and 450 children in Kansas waiting for an adoptive family, and many of these children have suffered from abuse and/or neglect, and some have medical, emotional and/or developmental needs, said Juvenile Services Director Marissa Woodmansee. “Adoption brings the unique opportunity to forever transform a child’s life and enrich the life of the adoptive parent or family who welcomes them.”

This effort is really a partnership, she said. In addition to county officials, St. Francis Community Services (which handles foster child programs for the State of Kansas), Kansas Department for Children and Families and Kansas Children Service League are involved.

Woodmansee said she is proud of Barton County and its adoption efforts. In fact, through the work of St. Francis and the Barton County courts, there will be over a dozen adoptions in the county this week.

In her capacity at Juvenile Services, Woodmansee said she sees the need for permanent homes for many of the children she works with. She also sees the benefits of adoption in providing safe and loving families to kids in need.

“It’s a lot of hard work,” she said of adoption. But, “I’m proud of Barton County” and its embracing of adoption.

“I know a lot of people who have been touched by adoption,” Woodmansee said. “I think its more people than you realize.”

Adoption Month Reception on Nov. 2, to share their story about adoption and kick-off National Adoption Month with Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) and Kansas Children Service League (KCSL) staff. 

But, in addition to the courts, St. Francis and the state agencies, Woodmansee we can’t forget about the children, the adoptive parents and the foster parents who are involved in the process.

Woodmansee said they are also encouraging faith organizations to educate their members about adoption on Adoption Sunday.

Governor Sam Brownback signed a proclamation on Thursday, Oct. 19, designating November as Adoption Month statewide. There was a reception last week in Topeka including the DCF and KCSL, as well as families who shared their adoption stories.

Throughout the month, DCF, and its contractors and community partners are taking part in a series of events to call attention to the need for more adoptive and foster families. The number of children available for adoption in Kansas is up about 100 from last year. In FY 2017, 758 children were adopted from foster care.

This year, DCF is highlighting the many older youth in foster care who are eligible for adoption with the theme “Teens need families, no matter what.” Of the 471 children available for adoption in Kansas, approximately 261 are 13 years or older.

“Often, teens in foster care feel that they are too old to be adopted,” said DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore. “But in reality, they need love, acceptance and a place to call home just like the younger youth in care.” 

“It is essential that we take this time to recognize the need for adoptions out of foster care because there are so many children that are waiting to find their forever home— especially sibling groups and older youth,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer. “Every child deserves a loving place to call home, so while we take November to highlight this need, it is important to remember year-round.”