• March/April 2001
  • Vol. 2, No. 2

Printer-Friendly version of article

Corporate Partnerships Increase Adoption of Foster Care Children

What do hospitals, furniture retailers, and children's clothing stores have in common? Through innovative partnerships with adoption agencies, they have all helped waiting children find homes.

An estimated 110,000 foster children in the United States need permanent homes. Many of them are school-age or older, were abused or neglected, are mentally or physically challenged, or are part of a sibling group.

Two years ago, the Illinois Hospital and Health Systems Association (IHHA) joined the Illinois Department of Children and Families Services (DCFS) and the Illinois Child Care Association in establishing a model workplace recruitment program. IHAA recently was honored with an Adoption 2002 award (see "HHS Annouces Winners of Adoption 2002 Excellence Awards" in the January 2001 issue of the Children's Bureau Express). To date, 41 hospitals employing 65,000 workers have helped publicize the need for adoptive families. DCFS asked each hospital to participate in the following ways:

  • Assign a hospital employee to work on the project who expresses an enthusiastic belief in, and support of, recruiting adoptive families
  • Provide assistance with the development of appropriate marketing tools and strategy
  • Arrange access to space within the hospital for orientation, training sessions, fingerprinting, etc.
  • Review the benefits package for employees choosing to adopt.

The Illinois Child Care Association has provided guidance in the selection of private agencies to partner with IHHA members hospitals. Private agencies enter into a contractual agreement with DCFS that pays incentives for each completed application, licenses issued to a family within 75 days of the application submission, placements in an adoptive home for 30 days, and matches made within 90 days of a family being licensed. In return, the agency must agree to a customer-friendly approach to recruitment, training, licensing, and matching.

The Dave Thomas Foundation arranged for DCFS to team with marketing staff from Wendy's Restaurants (also founded by Dave Thomas) to develop marketing materials. The recruitment materials--brochures, magnets, posters, banners, table tents, and employee paycheck inserts--can be personalized with the hospital's and private agency's logo and contact information.

The project, known as the Corporate Partnership for Recruitment of Adoptive Families, has generated widespread interest among hospital employees and created new families for 11 adopted children, with more families waiting matching, placements, and finalizations. New corporate partners, particularly African American-run or owned businesses, are currently being sought to expand the pool of permanent families for Illinois' waiting children.

In Massachusetts, a corporate partnership between Jordan's Furniture stores and the nonprofit Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) has had similar success in finding adoptive families. The partnership was launched following an adoption party sponsored by Jordan's in February 1999 that attracted 2,000 prospective parents--the most successful party in the State's history. The Massachusetts Department of Social Services and MARE developed a Memorandum of Commitment which outlined changes required of agencies in order to benefit from the financial and marketing support provided by Jordan's. These changes required agencies to:

  • Offer joint training
  • Attend regional matching meetings
  • Share home studies
  • Free their families to adopt children through any agency
  • Register all children on MARE's exchange.

As a result, agencies have developed uniform processes and are working more collaboratively. Jordan's has continued to lend its support, with events such as an adoption party for older boys, a button campaign during which employees wore a waiting child's picture, and displays of books featuring waiting children in their stores.

Last November, Family Builders Adoption Network (FBAN)--a national network of 15 public and private adoption agencies--launched a national interstate program to match children with families. Through a partnership with Children's Orchard, a national chain of children's clothing stores, FBAN was able to obtain funding and marketing support. Children's Orchard's 100 franchise stores promote special needs adoptions and its corporate website presents adoption success stories.

The stores also encourage in-store fundraising by asking customers to round up their purchase price, leave cash in cans, or purchase a coupon book to benefit Family Builders' agencies. Donations from Children's Orchards have funded a staff position that facilitates interactions between Family Builders agencies to place children across State lines. To date, 16 special needs children have been placed through the pilot program.

For more information, contact:

Diane DeLeonardo
Statewide Project Coordinator
Corporate Partnership for the Recruitment of Adoptive Families
1945 S. Glenwood
Springfield, IL 62704
Phone: 217-544-0254
Fax: 217-544-0522
Email: leonardo@fgi.net

Carolyn Smith
Executive Director
Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange
45 Franklin Street, 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02110-1301
Phone: 800-882-1176 or 617-542-3678
Fax: 617-542-1006
Website: http://www.mareinc.org

Maureen Heffernan
Family Builders Adoption Network
3766 Fishcreek Road, # 276
Stow, OH 44224-5408
Phone: 330-673-2680
Email: msh627@aol.com
Website: http://www.childorch.com/fban_home.htm (Editor's note: this link is no longer available.)

Related Items

See these related articles in the Children's Bureau Express:

  • "Guidebook Encourages Social Workers to Pursue Adoptions Across State Lines" (this issue)
  • "Issue Brief Profiles States' Best Practices to Increase Adoptions, Improve Foster Care Placements" (January 2001)

<<  Previous Section   <  Previous Article   Next Article  >   Next Section  >>