The Virginia One Church, One Child (OCOC) adoption advocacy program was funded by the Children's Bureau in 2003 to establish the National Network of Adoption Advocacy Programs (NNAAP) as a way to recruit families to adopt African-American and other children. The goal for the NNAAP was to increase the number of States using the OCOC model, placing particular emphasis on States that have disproportionate numbers of African-American, Hispanic, or other minority children in waiting.
The OCOC mission is for every participating church to find one family to adopt one child from foster care, and the OCOC model outlines how churches can recruit, train, and support adoptive families. The model also outlines how church congregations can provide postadoption support in a way similar to a traditional African-American extended family.
The first year of the NNAAP was devoted to building a network and ensuring a strong program base for evaluation and program design. Over the following years, the NNAAP helped jurisdictions build programs on the OCOC model by providing conferences, speakers, technical assistance, peer-to-peer technical support, resources, and training. The program also administered mini-grants to help OCOC-modeled organizations build firm foundations.
Much of the success of the program is attributed to the relationships that were built between churches and child welfare agencies. The OCOC model helped pave the way for these relationships so that churches and agencies could coordinate their work and support each other. For example, the Virginia OCOC has a Department of Social Services staff person in the OCOC office, and the OCOC engages participating churches in all aspects of child welfare, from prevention to permanency.
Another crucial element for OCOC program success is the endorsement and support of pastors and church leaders. OCOC staff find ways to support and engage the pastors by getting to know them, helping them with fundraisers and other projects, and asking pastors they know to introduce them to new clergy. One program sponsors Clergy in Court for Kids by taking local clergy to Family Court 1 day a week so that the pastors hear what is happening to children in their community. This has proven to be an eye opener for many clergy and has helped the OCOC staff with garnering church support for their program.
Another important component of the OCOC model is the church coordinator. Each participating church identifies a coordinator who commits to being the liaison between the church and the OCOC program. In some cases, the person is an adoptive parent. The coordinator's responsibilities include making presentations at the church, setting up OCOC displays, attending workshops, and speaking about the program at other churches. OCOC provides training on the child welfare system and also provides items such as presentation materials.
Anecdotal evidence to date supports the success of this program. A program evaluator recently published a report on the best practices of the OCOC model programs, noting the following core services:
- Partnership between faith community and public agencies
- Recruitment for resource families within the faith community
- Education with increased awareness for the faith community and the public about adoption
- Advocacy for adoption in the faith community
More information about the NNAAP and OCOC model can be found on the network's website, including information about its steering and advisory committee members, mini-grants, and additional resources: www.nnaap-ococ.org
The best practices report is available on this website at http://www.nnaap-ococ.org/documents/OCOCBestPractices.pdf
Reprinted from Children's Bureau Express, "Site Visit: National Network Promotes Faith-Based Adoption Efforts" (http://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/).