The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is getting a boost to its efforts to find loving adoptive homes for children more quickly from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
MDHHS and the foundation, a national nonprofit started by the fast food chain founder, are announcing Michigan’s participation in the Foundation’s signature program, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids®, which will on finding adoptive homes for children who have been in foster care the longest and cannot safely return to their families. The partnership funds 37 adoption professionals to serve youth at highest risk of aging out of foster care, including teenagers, children with special needs and siblings.
“Each day a child spends in foster care waiting for a permanent family is too long,” said JooYeun Chang, executive director of the Children’s Services Agency within MDHHS.”
Also participating in the project are two existing MDHHS child welfare partners – Orchards Children’s Services and Judson Center Child & Family Services. Those two partners will employ adoption resource consultants who are being trained to implement the Dave Thomas Foundation’s evidence-based, child-focused recruitment model. The model focuses on finding an adoptive family from the child’s known network. Prior to the expansion of the program in Michigan, there were three positions already in place at Spaulding for Children and St. Vincent Catholic Charities.
A rigorous, five-year national evaluation found that a child referred to the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program is up to three times more likely to be adopted. Based on this evaluation and a successful pilot of the program, Ohio became the first state to expand Wendy’s Wonderful Kids statewide in 2012. In 2017, the Foundation launched a 12-year business plan to fully scale the program across all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Nearing the end of phase one of the plan, statewide expansion is underway in Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, Washington and now, Michigan.
To date, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids has helped to find adoptive homes for more than 9,500 children across North America, including 195 youth in Michigan.
Khadija Walker-Fobbs, chief strategy officer of the Judson Center added, “Judson Center is elated to be able to expand the crucial work of Wendy’s Wonderful Kids. Any time we can deepen supports for children in Michigan through partnerships, it is cause for celebration.”