• July/August 2008
  • Vol. 9, No. 6

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Innovative Recruitment Strategies: The Latino Family Institute

A number of programs have received Adoption Opportunities grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau to carry out demonstration projects designed to improve outcomes for children adopted from foster care. One highly successful program highlighted here illustrates how these grants can be used to find permanent families for specific groups of children, in this case—Latino children in Los Angeles.

In 2000, the Latino Family Institute (LFI) received a 3-year grant from the Children's Bureau to place 40 Latino children with families. By the end of the project period, the results spoke for themselves: 69 Latino children had been placed in adoptive homes, and 198 prospective Latino families had been recruited. In addition, the awareness of the need for adoptive homes had been heightened in the Latino community, and more than 200 child welfare professionals had received training on using culturally responsive approaches to recruitment and placement.

Some of the strategies used by LFI included:

  • Culturally responsive outreach using print and electronic media
  • Presentations to Latino professional, civic, student, and religious groups
  • Development of a new curriculum for applicants
  • "While you wait" events for waiting families
  • Workshops for child welfare professionals
  • Bilingual and bicultural staff
  • Intensive collaboration with the public adoption agencies that had the legal jurisdiction over the children to be placed

Since the end of funding, LFI has continued to provide adoption services and was able to expand programs after receiving additional Federal grants. In 2005, LFI opened a new office following the award of the Abandoned Infants Assistance grant targeting families impacted by substance abuse and HIV/AIDS. In 2007, LFI finalized 76 adoptions. Currently, LFI conducts the Infant Adoption Awareness Training Program in California and Puerto Rico.

According to Maria Quintanilla, executive director of LFI, much of the success of the recruitment program stems from addressing and overcoming barriers that may have precluded Latino families from adopting in the past. By identifying both organizational and cultural barriers, LFI is able to educate and empower these families. In an article on removing these barriers, Ms. Quintanilla offers a number of recommendations to other agencies, including:

  • Reinforce that services are not just for the wealthy.
  • Clarify the agency's relationship with the government.
  • Establish personal relationships between staff and prospective families.
  • Acknowledge stereotypes and help families examine their biases.
  • Address spirituality.
  • Recognize that services need to be culturally translated.
  • Explain who the children are and where they are from.