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February 2012Vol. 13, No. 1Evaluation of Wendy's Wonderful Kids Released

Findings from a 5-year evaluation of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption's Wendy's Wonderful Kids program are available, and results show overwhelmingly that foster children served by the program model are 1.7 times more likely to be adopted.

This is the first-of-its-kind evaluation of a child-focused adoption recruitment practice model. The Wendy's Wonderful Kids (WWK) program model is unique in that it is a corporate-funded program that aims to find permanent homes for foster children and youth, with a particular focus on children considered hard to place, such as older children and children with mental disabilities.

The evaluation, conducted by Child Trends, included 26 grantee agencies in 23 sites. Between August 2006 and January 2010, 1,393 children were randomly assigned to either a treatment or control group. The final study evaluated 21 grantee agencies in 18 States. Comparisons between children served by WWK and children not served by WWK found that:

  • Children referred to WWK at age 8 were 1.5 times more likely to be adopted.
  • Children referred at age 11 were two times more likely to be adopted.
  • Children referred at age 15 were three times as likely to be adopted.
  • Children with mental health disorders who were served by WWK were three times more likely to be adopted. 

The WWK program is funded by Wendy's restaurant customer donations and other sources. The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption issues grants to adoption organizations in the local communities where funds are raised, and the organizations hire WWK adoption recruiters who spend 100 percent of their time finding permanent families for children in their local foster care systems. WWK recruiters carry small caseloads—between 12 and 15 cases—that allow them to form strong one-on-one relationships with the children they serve and be more aggressive in their recruitment efforts.

The full evaluation report, a factsheet, program model description, and more are available on the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption website: