AUGUSTA-The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is partnering with A Family for ME to recognize the more than 1,400 licensed foster homes in Maine during National Foster Care Month of May.

"We extend our gratitude to Maine's foster families and welcome new families to join us in caring for vulnerable Maine children," said Todd Landry, Director of the Department's Office of Child and Family Services. "Foster parents are, in many ways, the glue that holds together the child welfare system by partnering with our staff to care for the day-to-day physical, mental, and emotional needs of our children."

Governor Mills has declared May as Foster Care Month in Maine to show support for and recognize the state's foster families.

A Family for ME is a statewide recruitment campaign to identify, support, and inform families interested in becoming foster and adoptive parents for children in the custody of Maine DHHS. Recruitment specialists for A Family for ME travel the state to meet and engage with individuals, families, and key community partners who are interested in making a difference in the lives of Maine children, with the goal of increasing the number of licensed foster and adoptive homes.

Maine has approximately 2,000 children in out-of-home care, including 399 children who are waiting to be legally adopted. A Family for ME aims to find permanent placements for children in out-of-home care. While children of all ages in out-of-home care need support, there is a particularly urgent need for families who can parent adolescents and teenagers, sibling groups with more than two children, and infants born affected by drugs or alcohol.

DHHS has undertaken several initiatives to improve the experience of new and current foster parents, including more efficient licensing of foster homes, streamlining the home inspection process, and improving in-home clinical support.

Those aged 21 or older who have a stable lifestyle and are interested in being a foster parent are encouraged to contact A Family for ME for more information. The toll-free, statewide telephone number is 1-844-893-6311, or visit aFamilyforMeMaine.org

If you are concerned about child neglect or abuse, call 1-800-452-1999 (Voice) or 711 (Maine Relay) to speak to with a child protective specialist through this 24-hour hotline. Calls may be made anonymously. For more information, visit: maine.gov/dhhs/ocfs/cw/reporting_abuse.