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'If I had a family, they'd be my world' | Hundreds of Tennessee kids in need of a forever family

The 2022 State of the Child report showed Tennessee has the highest rate of foster care instability in the nation. A Knoxville nonprofit hopes to change that.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — One child said she'd been in a million different homes without anyone who cared enough to be her family.

Another said he'd never experienced what a true family means.

"Ideally, a child would belong in a family," said Kristin Miller, a manager of community relations for Tennessee Kids Belong. "We don't always have the right families for these kids to go to."

She said the state of Tennessee has roughly 9,000 kids in the care of the state. Roughly 400 of them are in a permanent guardianship of the state, which means they're looking for adoption.

Her team helps those kids make videos introducing themselves to potential families.

"It's going to be ones that have been feeling hopeless, feeling like they don't belong anywhere. It's a tough place to be in," Miller said. "It's video shoot, once a month, that we get those kiddos in front of a camera — which is very brave, very courageous of them, because it's hard to do."

Credit: Tennessee Kids Belong

In one snippet, a kid said "if I had a family, they'd be my world." Miller said that's the reality for many of these children. About half of the ones who create a video find a placement.

Still, the state is in need of temporary foster homes. The 2022 State of the Child report showed Tennessee has the highest rate of foster care instability in the nation. 

Roughly one in three children have three or more placements in the first twelve months of custody. 

"If you look at the numbers as the whole, you can get really lost," she said. "It is really important to me that people continue to have that face and name of one at a time that they realize this life really can be changed."

Tennessee Kids Belong recruits foster families, as well as the village they need for support.

"Don't just put the meat out there and recruit these families and then leave them to be," she said. "You may form a team where members of the community or the local church will help provide meals and transportation and babysitting and mowing the lawn — different services to help keep that family supported as possible."

You can learn more about the children available for adoption at this link.

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