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Note from Rep. Les Gara
Note from Rep. Les Gara  

National Award For Foster Care Work: And Make Alaska Better Even if Some In Congress Are Threatening to Make Things Worse.

Note from Rep. Les Gara

October 16, 2013

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Dear Neighbors,

         Tired of politicians making government not work – and threatening to spin your economy and retirement accounts down the drain?  That’s just not happy news to wake up to every day.  It’s not even good theater unless you like 10 hour speeches about Dr. Seuss by those who hold your economy hostage.

         So here’s the good news because many of you want to know good things can happen, and that you can make even more good things happen. 

        We’ve been working on solving the major foster parent shortage in Alaska – which results in good children being placed in temporary homes because good stable homes aren’t available.  That’s no way to treat a child.

         The State has won an award for its compelling TV ad, “One Child.”  It does a strong job aiming at getting people to become foster parents to any of Alaska’s roughly 2,000 foster children.  Sen. Dyson, youth advocate Amanda Metivier, me, and lots of foster youth and adults make a very short pitch which, when the sentence fragments are put together, actually make a compete sentence.  See, some politicians can do that – in a less than a 10-hour Congressional floor speech about Dr. Seuss. 

         If you have the time and compassion, you can make a life better while some in Congress are stubbornly working to make the nation worse.  For more information about becoming a foster care parent, contact Christy Lawton, division director of the Office of Children’s Services: (907) 451-2650; christy.lawton@alaska.gov.  The training is easy.  And they’ll do a background check to make sure you haven’t been committing felonies while no one’s been looking.

         Have less time to spare? As you know, our office worked with youth advocates at Facing Foster Care in Alaska to start a Big Brothers/Big Sisters-style mentoring program for older foster youth.  These are youth who are about to leave foster care, and will have no responsible adult link in their life to give them advice, take them to a movie or on a hike, or help them steer towards job training and college (there is special foster youth aid for that which we have worked to support through the Legislature).  It is rewarding, and you can become a mentor where we have a shortage in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks.  If you’re interested, call (907) 433-4630.

         OK, here’s where it gets weird.  I’m stealing from a press release on this that will go out soon.  I am now about to quote me.  Who does that but a politician?  Here’s the press release excerpt.  And thanks for all your comments.  Keep them coming, and let us know if we can help!

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         Today, Representative Les Gara congratulated the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) for earning five awards in the National Public Health Information Coalition’s 2013 Awards for Excellence in Public Health Communications, including the gold medal for its foster parent recruitment video, “One Child.”

         “Foster parents are in high demand in Alaska, and the department did a great job capturing the need and the benefits of foster care in a fun, compelling ad,” said Gara (D-Anchorage), a former foster child and long-time foster care advocate who appears in the video. “We knew it was a great video, and it’s great the department is getting some recognition for it. Congratulations to all who worked on it.”

         “Alaska’s foster parents are some of the most generous people we are privileged to work with. Day in and day out, they provide security and affection for children who need it the most,” said Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Bill Streur. “This award provides another opportunity for us to ask Alaskans to open their hearts and homes by becoming a foster parent. As everyone in this PSA can attest, that single act can change the life of ‘one child’ forever.”

         The Department won a total of five medals from the organization for its efforts to educate Alaskans on children’s issues, including for its “Play Every Day TV PSA: Athlete” which features Alaska athletes Kikkan Randall, Laura Ingham, Holly Brooks, and Scotty Gomez encouraging Alaskan youth to stay active by getting out to play every day, and for its outreach on Medicaid compliance, infant bedtime safety, and WIC for Farmers markets efforts.  

         For more information about the awards, contact Susan Morgan, public information manager at the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services: Office 907.269.4996; Cell 907.223.8389; susan.morgan@alaska.gov.

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Best Regards,

[signed] Les Gara

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