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The federal government provides each state and the District with a $4,000 bonus for every child 9 and older who is adopted that is over the number of adoptions from the prior year.

Louis Henderson, founder and president of the National Association of Former Foster Care Children of America Inc., said police have served as key mentors in his support organization, which is based in Ward 4.

Mr. Henderson, a former foster care teen, coordinated the “first wings” mentoring program from 2001 to 2004, in which 20 police officers served as counselors for teens in independent living groups.

“They [the teens] got to see that these police officers were just like their brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers,” Mr. Henderson said. “They got to see beyond the uniform, beyond the police car.”

Child-services agencies in surrounding jurisdictions have not targeted police departments to recruit foster parents.

However, the foster option has spread by word of mouth through some stations in Montgomery County, where 367 children are in the program, said Jeanne Booth, supervisor of the county’s Foster and Adoptive Services.

Officer Bill Head, a Laytonville resident and parent of three, first learned about becoming a foster parent through a friend at his Gaithersburg police station three years ago. Since then, he has fostered eight younger children.

Miss Booth added that there are many ways adults can help children in foster care. Older children often seek mentors who can visit during a vacation from college or someone to go with to a baseball game.

“One big misconception that people have is that they have to commit for lifetime care when there are many opportunities to help children,” Miss Booth said.