In 2005, the Children's Bureau's National Resource Center for Adoption (NRCA) established the Minority Adoption Leadership Development Institute (MALDI) to enhance the leadership skills of minority adoption leaders from around the country. Florida's Department of Children and Families enrolled an adoption leader, Minnie Jenkins, in MALDI, and Ms. Jenkins was able to return to her State and apply her new skills to develop an adoption program for older African American children.
The program she created, All Things Are Possible: No Limits Adoption Recruitment for African American Children, involved child-specific recruitment for 10 African American youth, aged 9 and older. Ms. Jenkins provided training and technical assistance to the youths' case managers to help them with recruitment and with preparing the youth for adoption. She developed a number of tools, including:
- A 6-month individualized child-specific recruitment plan
- Placement log
- Traumatic events log
- Log of all prior caregivers and significant adults in the youth's life
- Form letter to send to prior caregivers and significant adults who could become committed caring adults in that youth's life
The child-specific recruitment plan included many ideas for identifying potential families, updating the youth's files, and using a variety of media to promote the youth and make his or her story known to as many families as possible. Ms. Jenkins helped the case managers implement the plans, serving as a mentor and resource. By the end of the project, two youth had finalized adoptions, one sibling group of three had been placed with an adoptive family, one sibling group of three had been matched with a preadoptive family; and two children still did not have identified families.
The success of this program led the State to take the program statewide with a project called The 100 Longest Waiting Teens Project: A Family for Every Teen. In this new project, case managers used the tools and practices from the All Things Are Possible program to recruit families for 104 Florida teens who had been in foster care for most of their lives. One year after this new project had launched, 49 of the 104 teens (13 years of age and over) had achieved permanence.. Recruitment activities are continuing for those remaining.
At a 3-day statewide adoption conference designed to celebrate both of these programs, case managers were able to share their success stories with other professionals and to disseminate information about the programs. A national adoption expert provided training and workshops on realistic adoption. In addition, the State agency used the opportunity to announce a new program that will use the same techniques to identify permanent connections for youth who have been assigned a permanency goal of APPLA (Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement).
Reprinted from Children's Bureau Express, "Site Visit: Child-Specific Recruitment for African-American Children" (http://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov).