Recruiters in Ohio Helping Foster Kids Find a “Forever Family”
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services is stepping up to help find permanent families for older children waiting to be adopted. The state is spending more than $2 million to hire 35 specialized, child-focused recruiters who will be trained by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption to locate adoptive families for children over the age of 9.
Taylor Porter, a Wendy's Wonderful Kids Adoption recruiter in Columbus, describes the situation.
"We focus on a lot of the older kids who have been in the system and haven't had a chance to be in a situation where they can stay and make it their forever family. These teenagers are very important; there's some great kids out here that just need a great family to be in."
Rita Soronen, president and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, says every foster child deserves the chance to find a family.
"They're there because they have been abused, neglected or abandoned; they're there through no fault of their own. Our job is to get them adopted; our job is to find evidence-based practices that can work for these children."
The recruiters will follow the Wendy's Wonderful Kids child-focused recruitment model, working with a small number of children and focusing on finding the perfect match for each one. Seven recruiters have been working in Ohio since 2004 and have helped finalize nearly 200 adoptions.
According to research released by the foundation, older children in the program are up to three times more likely to be adopted. Porter says it's the individual attention they provide that makes the difference.
"It comes down to time, smaller caseloads, more focus on the child themselves. Because we have a very, very strong knowledge of the child, it usually works out better."
Currently, more than 1,000 young Ohioans between the ages of 9 and 17 have been in foster care for more than two years. Overall, close to 12,000 children are in foster care in the state.