The AASK program has recently received a grant to increase from a part-time recruiter to a full-time through the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program. The Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter is a unique position within the AASK program, which allows me to focus on recruiting families for children who are waiting to be matched with their forever families. The recruitment strategies that I use will be more “aggressive” and “child focused” – or “grassroots”, you could say. The children on my caseload will tend to be sibling groups, older children, and children with moderate-severe special needs, such as mental health diagnoses, physical health needs, or behavioral challenges. Research has shown that children that are recruited for through the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program are 1.7 times more likely to be matched with a family than a child that does not receive services through the grant.
The grant also allows for me to work on recruiting families who may be generally interested in the adoption process, or may want to be a waiting family within our program. I will be doing community outreach, as well, by providing education and referring families to their local foster care agencies and Foster/Adopt Coalitions.
As the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter, I will be working hard with the child’s team to learn as much information as I can about the child. I also meet with the child regularly to build their trust and develop an open, honest relationship. Getting to know the child assists me in learning about who they are and what type of family would be the best fit. After building this relationship, I will be able to assess their readiness for adoption and prepare them for the big life changes that are in their future through the process of being matched with a family.
As I recruit for families, I will be looking into relatives, informal supports, and other connections that the child has had along the way to find potential adoptive families in the people the child already knows. i will be recruiting for families that share a child’s interests, such as utilizing culinary school billboards and newsletters to find a family for a child who dreams of becoming a chef, or highlighting a child’s compassion for animals by recruiting families at Kennel Clubs, pet stores, and training facilities.
We are also able to raise awareness for the need of adoptive families for children from the foster care system. You will hopefully see us present at conferences, schools, community activities, and local events. I have an assortment of recruitment materials that can be made available to our community partners to aid their recruitment efforts.
The AASK program in partnership with Wendy’s Wonderful Kids and the Dave Thomas Foundation has been successful in matching approximately 39 children through the part-time efforts since beginning in 2006 and I look forward to many more successful efforts on a full time basis! All children deserve to have forever families and it is a privilege to be a part in their journey toward permanency.
If you are interested in learning more about special needs adoption, becoming a waiting family, becoming a foster parent, or volunteering for our cause, please contact Sonja McLean at 701-356-7985.