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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936
Western Montana Heart Gallery showcases children hoping to be placed into 'forever homes'
The Western Montana Heart Gallery photo display located in the Southgate Mall in Missoula continues to feature area foster children hoping to successfully be placed into permanent ‘forever homes’, Department of Public Health and Human Services officials said this week.
“Children who have been featured in the Western Montana Heart Gallery are often placed with a forever family,” said DPHHS Director Richard Opper. “Every child deserves to live in a stable and supportive environment, and now many of these children will have that chance.”
Throughout the year, the gallery features, on average, six western Montana foster children who are eligible to be adopted. Professional portraits adorn the display and are accompanied by a brochure giving information about that particular youth and a contact number for more information.
According to DPHHS Child and Family Services Division (CFSD) regional administrator Nikki Grossberg, the gallery will continue to be on display as long as it remains an effective tool.
“Western Montana families continue to open their homes to these children, and we’re really appreciative of that,” Grossberg said.
Currently, the gallery features six hopeful youth, including three boys and three girls between the ages of six and 15, who are living in group homes and eligible for adoption. The children are from western Montana communities.
Grossberg said the idea behind the gallery is to expose potential adoptees to the thousands of
shoppers who regularly visit the mall. The gallery is set up near the mall’s main entrance.
The Western Montana Heart Gallery first opened in October 2010.
Grossberg said that in the western region of Montana about 113 children from 0-18 are waiting for adoption at this time and of those the most difficult to find homes for are ages 10 to 18.
There are about 450 foster children in the seven-county CFSD Western Region, which includes Missoula, Ravalli, Mineral, Lake, Flathead, Sanders and Lincoln counties. There are 119 licensed foster families in the western region.
The first Heart Gallery opened in 2001 in New Mexico. Heart Galleries are a national effort to raise awareness about children in foster care who are eligible for adoption and the need for adoptive families. Since then, galleries have popped up in public settings throughout the United States.