November 2003Vol. 4, No. 9Raising Awareness, Eliminating Barriers: The Collaboration to AdoptUSKids
Note: Although not a National Resource Center, the Collaboration to AdoptUSKids is a member of the Children's Bureau's Technical Assistance Network.
Nearly 300,000 children entered foster care during fiscal year 2001 (the most recent year for which data is available). Although many of these children eventually return home to their families, at the end of that year 126,000 children were waiting for someone to adopt them. Many potential adoptive parents do not understand there is little or no cost to adopt these children, and support (financial and otherwise) is available. In October 2002, the Children's Bureau contracted with the Adoption Exchange Association and partners (the Collaboration to AdoptUSKids) to address these misconceptions and help find families for these waiting children.
The Collaboration to AdoptUSKids was charged with devising and implementing a national adoptive family recruitment and retention strategy, operating the AdoptUSKids website (www.adoptuskids.org), encouraging and enhancing adoptive family support organizations, and conducting research projects on adoption. In the project's first year, they have made tremendous progress in many areas:
- National Recruitment Campaign. The Ad Council, in partnership with the Collaboration to AdoptUSKids and the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is creating a campaign that will encourage adults to adopt children in the foster care system. The multimedia campaign, scheduled to launch in the spring of 2004, will address common myths about adoption.
- Enhancements to the AdoptUSKids website. In the last year, more than 6,500 children have been listed on the AdoptUSKids website, and 1,500 listed children have been successfully adopted. Hundreds more agencies and thousands of prospective adoptive families have registered on the site. Enhancements launching soon will help caseworkers better manage their open cases, resulting in more successful, faster matches. In the next year, further enhancements will make it easier for families to communicate with caseworkers and be matched appropriately with waiting children.
- Training and Technical Assistance. The Collaboration to AdoptUSKids offers training and technical assistance to help States use the national photolisting website, develop local recruitment campaigns in collaboration with the national effort, and respond to inquiries by prospective adoptive parents. In the next year, they will begin a benchmarking initiative to help States examine their existing recruitment processes, identify areas that need further attention, and develop new processes to eliminate structural barriers and facilitate adoptions.
- Parent Support Group Mini-Grants. The first round of parent support group mini-grants was awarded in June 2003. Five rounds of 35 grants each are planned; the second cluster will be awarded December 1.
Other projects include:
- A National Adoption and Foster Care Recruitment Summit for State adoption and foster care administrators and professionals to be held this month in Washington, DC.
- An October 29 Web cast launching a new series of workbooks for workers, supervisors, and foster/adoptive parents on "Answering the Call" to adopt.
- Research on barriers to adoption and successful adoptive families.
The Adoption Exchange Association is the principal contractor for the Collaboration to AdoptUSKids. Other partners include the Child Welfare League of America, the Northwest Adoption Exchange, the Adoption Exchange Education Center, the University of Texas School of Social Work and the Center for Social Work Research, and Holt International Children's Services. For more information, visit the website at www.adoptuskids.org or contact the Adoption Exchange Association at (888) 200-4005 or firstname.lastname@example.org.