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DHS news release

February 14, 2007

Program contact: Audrey Riggs, 503-657-2112, Ext. 300
Media contact: Patricia Feeny, 503-945-6955

Note to editors: Clackamas foster families are available for interviews.

State urges Clackamas families to open their homes to abused children

The story begins more than four decades ago with a little girl, a large rental house and a dining table that seats 22.

"We saw an ad featuring this cute little girl who needed a home," said Pat Arce, a Clackamas foster mother. "We had this huge house that came with a dining table for 22, at which the six of us would huddle at just one end."

Since that time the table has been filled.

Pat and her husband, David, have been foster parents for almost 46 years. They have raised four biological children, two adoptive children and countless foster children.

"Countless because I never sat down to count them," said Pat Arce. "I don't see numbers. I see children."

Children who, because of the care, patience and love of the Arces, have grown up and are now raising families of their own. These success stories keep the Arces and other foster parents committed to helping the children of Clackamas County.

But Clackamas County is in need of more foster parents.

This Tuesday, Feb. 20, the DHS Clackamas child welfare office is hosting a free, open-to-the-public informational meeting for families interested in foster care and adoption. The meeting will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Gladstone Senior Center, 1050 Portland Ave.

"Foster parents are the backbone of the child welfare system," said Audrey Riggs, a DHS child welfare supervisor.

"They provide the day-to-day support and care that is so critical to the well-being of the children and youth in the state's custody," said Riggs. "Children in stable and supportive foster care environments develop better interpersonal skills, have fewer mental health issues, do better in school, and find a more solid footing in life."

In Clackamas County there are more than 300 abused and neglected children and youth living in just over 250 foster homes. They range in age from 0 to 18.

Riggs said that while recruiting for new foster families right now is critical, retaining foster parents like the Arces is even more important.

"I don't think people stay long enough to see children grow and function in life better than they would have without good foster care," said Arce. "With the right care, children's lives can be turned around."

For more information about becoming a foster or adoptive parent, call