Building Stronger Families Together
By: Governor Kristi Noem
July 8, 2022
Strong families are the foundation of our communities and the backbone of our state. We need to continue to work together to support families across the state to ensure a brighter future for all of South Dakota. Since taking office, I have prioritized standing up for families across South Dakota, recognizing that stronger families will build stronger communities.
One critical way to create stronger families is through foster care—and particularly by recruiting more foster families. Unfortunately, we have plenty of children in need across our state, and we need to ensure that there are loving homes available for each of them. Children enter foster care because their own families are in crisis, and foster families come alongside kids who need a safe, stable, loving place to stay. We need foster parents in every single community in the state so that children can stay close to those things that are familiar to them, especially their families and schools.
In May 2021, I launched our “Stronger Families Together” initiative and set an ambitious goal: to recruit 300 new foster families each year in South Dakota. Thanks to the hard work of the Department of Social Services and South Dakota Kids Belong, we met that goal in our first year and have licensed 304 new foster families across the state. We have also engaged with 71 businesses and 31 churches who have pledged to help provide the community support that makes a real difference in the lives of these kids and families.
These are big achievements, but we still have work to do. Our goal is to recruit an additional 900 new licensed foster and adoptive families in South Dakota over the next three years and engage with even more business partners and faith leaders. Reaching these goals will take a lot of work, and we will need your help.
We currently have 13 Wrap Around teams across the state made up of 177 Wrap Members who help families by running errands, providing transportation, or helping with meals. These Wrap Members provide support to foster families while they support these kids. This prevents our foster families from being overwhelmed or burning out, and it sends a message that our communities are committed to helping these kids, together.
Growing up, I had a brother who joined our family through foster care, so I understand how significant—and demanding—it can be to serve as a foster family. As a mother and grandmother, I also understand that a support structure is critical. We have to make sure foster families know that they are not alone.
Please ask yourself: How can I help? There are so many ways that anyone can help a foster family succeed. Check in and really ask how they’re doing. Give them a call. Send a text or an email. Bring them a meal. Let them know you are thinking of them and praying for them. Find out what you can do to make their lives easier. And this is not only a call to individuals, but also to faith and business communities.
To learn about opportunities to get involved, please visit www.StrongerFamiliesTogether.com. We have a tremendous opportunity to strengthen our state through our children. Let’s work together to get it done.