HARRISBURG - “Val’s Kids,” a program aimed at matching children with loving families hosted by news anchor Valerie Pritchett, gave three siblings the opportunity to visit the Pennsylvania Farm Show and be ‘Farm Show Detectives’ for a day on Monday, Jan. 12.
Trenton, 14; Keya, 13; and Jonathan, 10, came from Philadelphia, Pa., and followed Farm Show Ambassador Kristi Rooker to learning stations throughout the Farm Show Complex designed to let children investigate the world of agriculture.
Highlights for the children included meeting “Rosie,” the talking cow at the Pennsylvania Dairy Princess and Promotion Services booth and seeing the newborn piglets at the Swine Learning Station.
At the end of the day, Pritchett asked the children to talk a little about themselves and the kind of family they hoped to find.
“We’re just looking for someone that will take care of all of us,” said oldest sibling Trenton. The children have been placed in different foster homes before, but for the time being, they are all together.
Aside from the normal sibling rivalries, Karen Knodel, adoption and child recruitment worker, believes the children get along well.
“They really seem to enjoy each other,” she said. “They all have positive things to say about each other, and they all have great senses of humor.”
Pritchett and Knodel work together through an adoption program called the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN), which is a collaborative effort among the Department of Public Welfare, the Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange, and both public and private adoption agencies.
In addition to featuring children waiting for adoption on both television and in newspapers, SWAN also hosts matching events, aimed to pair up children and their social workers with potential parents.
Val’s Kids has been airing since 2000. More than 200 children have been featured, and 120 of those have been placed in homes. The segment is featured Sunday and Wednesday evenings on Harrisburg’s abc27 News.
Although the news program itself isn’t usually the only way parents are matched with children, both Pritchett and Knodel say it serves as a way to promote adoption and to get families thinking about it.
“Even interested parents usually need to see or hear about adoption three or four times before they will really look into it,” Knodel said.
Knodel added there are currently about 1,300 children aged 10 or older waiting to be adopted. Pritchett sees the importance of adoption, and she hopes more people in the state will “open their homes and hearts” to kids like Trenton, Keya and Jonathan.
“Every child deserves a loving, safe, supportive and secure home,” Pritchett said.
In addition to helping Keya and her brothers find a loving home, Val’s Kids and the Pennsylvania Farm Show may have also aided Keya in a future career path.
“I want to be a veterinarian,” she replied when asked what she’d planned to be when she grew up. “I love animals!”