The United States is currently facing a crisis. A crisis that is often not being discussed in the media, during presidential debates, or in conversations at the local coffee shop. In our country we currently have over 400,000 children in the foster care system. Over 100,000 of these children are legally free for adoption and, it is estimated that approximately 22,000 of these children age out of the foster care system every year without a family. These children are amongst the most vulnerable youth in America, and we see it as our responsibility to help find families for them.
In 2005, the Barker Adoption Foundation launched Project Wait No Longer (PWNL), a program designed to find loving adoptive families for older children who are currently in foster care with no permanency plan. Since its inception, PWNL has placed almost 100 children into pre-adoptive families, with many of them moving forward to finalize their adoptions. We are proud of what we have achieved, but know that there is much work to be done as we continue to address this national crisis. Astoundingly, approximately 1,200 children enter foster care every day. While most of these children will return home to their birth family, for the others, entry into the system marks the beginning of a very uncertain future. The solution to this problem is that we need to find more families who are willing and well prepared to adopt older children with a history of trauma.
In 2012 PWNL launched a community outreach plan to help recruit, train and license families who are well prepared to adopt older children from the foster care system. The goals of this campaign are to:
- Educate the public about the number of waiting children in the U.S.
- Educate the public about the needs of the children who wait
- Address the myths and misconceptions of foster care adoption
- Build community partnerships locally and nationally to help increase the number of older child adoptions from foster care
- Increase the number of families participating in older child adoption training
- Increase the number of families licensed to adopt older children
- Increase the number of older children being placed through PWNL
Since implementation of the plan, PWNL has participated in hundreds of community events including community fairs, corporate health fairs, faith based conferences, and school events. PWNL has also increased advertising efforts in local newspapers and on the web. PWNL has partnered with organizations such as Rainbow Families, The Tinina Q. Cade Foundation and local faith based organizations to share information about older child adoption. As a result of these efforts, the program has seen a 30% increase in the size of parent training classes as well as increased placement numbers in the program.
Even so, we know that for every child adopted through PWNL, thousands of children continue to wait for a family.
So how can you help? While our efforts have resulted in positive outcomes, we have a long way to go, and know that with the help of our entire Barker community we can make even more progress. Many of our PWNL families initially learned about us from individuals who had adopted through other Barker programs and we take great pride in knowing that all of the members of our community are committed to helping us find loving families for older, waiting children.
Here are a few ways that you can help! We would be happy to provide any speakers, refreshments and written material needed for any of the following events:
- Host an adoption lunch & learn at your workplace
- Invite PWNL staff to share information at your next PTA meeting
- Connect PWNL to your local house of worship so that we can provide a workshop, do a presentation or set up an information table in your lobby
- Drop off PWNL brochures at your doctor’s office, nail/hair salon or workplace
- Post PWNL flyers at your local grocery store, coffee shop, library, or yoga studio
- Connect PWNL to your local community events, festivals & fairs
The Barker community is strong and we are confident that with your help we can find even more loving families for the waiting children in our country. For more information about ways to get involved with Project Wait No Longer’s outreach campaign, please contact Surina Amin at samin [at] barkerfoundation.org.