This week, Maryland's Department of Human Resources (DHR) celebrated its third annual "Place Matters" awards, recognizing the outstanding efforts of state employees in helping ensure that all Maryland children grow up in safe and loving homes. We launched Place Matters with the belief that all children in Maryland, no matter where they come from, deserve a place to call home. We are making this vision a reality for more children in Maryland than ever before.
Since beginning Place Matters, we have been tracking the progress at each of our local DHR offices toward meeting four goals: reducing the number of out-of-home placements, increasing the number of kids living in family homes, reducing the number of kids in group homes and increasing the number of adoptions.
For the first time, every local jurisdiction has met their targets in at least one of these four goals. Two-thirds have met two or more measures and one-third met three or all of the goals we set -- with Allegany, Baltimore City and Somerset Counties' local departments especially deserving of praise for meeting all four Place Matters goals.
What does this mean for Maryland families? It means:
* 602 fewer children were removed from their homes;
* 3 out of every 4 kids that we serve are living in family homes;
* Only 11 percent of children served were in group homes; and
* 544 kids in care found permanent homes through adoption.
Together, we have made an extraordinary difference in these families' lives, and I would like to specially recognize Allegany County as Maryland's "jurisdiction of the year" for showing the most progress in our four Place Matters goals. Allegany edged out last year's winner, Baltimore City who came in a strong second this year.
Thank you and congratulations to all the hard working people at DHR for your efforts. Your work is making a difference for thousands of Maryland children every day.