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April 2020   |   Archive   |   National Adoption Month   

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Recruitment of Adoptive Families for Older Youth

According to most recent Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System estimates, 125,422 children in foster care are waiting to be adopted. Out of this population, over 30,000 children are between the ages of 12–17. Although the length of stay in foster care for this specific age group may vary, they are likely to wait longer to achieve permanency. Thus, it is important that we focus recruitment efforts on older youth so they have a family and don’t leave the system without a permanent connection.

Through the years, a number of promising practices have emerged in the recruitment field, from specific program models, such as child-specific recruitment, which is based on the individual needs and circumstances of the child; targeted recruitment, which is typically centered on particular populations or geographic areas; and extreme recruitment, which is designed to accelerate the process of finding an adoptive home for a child in a fraction of the time that it would normally take. Most importantly, youth should be actively involved in the development and implementation of recruitment plans.

Child-specific recruitment tools involve photo listings, televised videos, social media, and engaging the child’s family and existing connections. As an example, the Northwest Adoption Exchange uses In-Depth Profiles to provide youth the opportunity to speak directly to interested adoptive families. Targeted recruitment strategies are developed based on community specific characteristics and implemented through partnerships with faith-based and non-government organizations and the use of public messaging. Extreme recruitment programs focus exclusively with the hardest-to-place children and rely on the support of a private investigator.

The following resources highlight promising practices for states and agencies seeking creative ways to recruit adoptive parents.


3 Resources to Recruit Adoptive Families for Older Youth

Extreme Recruitment

By the Foster and
Adoptive Care Coalition


Child Focused Recruitment—Wendy’s Wonderful Kids

By the California
Clearinghouse for
Child Welfare


Weekend Miracles Program

By Kids Save



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