Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, a signature program from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, finds forever homes for children and youth that linger in the foster care system.

Wendy’s Wonderful Kids are typically children without an identified permanent family, legally free for adoption. Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Alaska works with up to thirteen youth that reside in the Anchorage and the Mat-Su valley. Our youth are referred by the Office of Children’s Services in the Anchorage and Southcentral Regions.

Upon referral, our Adoption Recruiter conducts an intensive case record review. We connect with the referred youth’s team to best identify adoption preparation tasks and potential adoptive home leads. Meeting with youth at least monthly, we develop a close relationship that serves as a foundation for adoption preparation and recruitment activities.

We recruit for a forever home by exploring the possibilities of a youth’s familiar circles of family and friends. When necessary, our Adoption Recruiter works aggressively to identify others outside the youth’s immediate network, probing possibilities based on the youth’s unique personality, gifts, and needs. Once a proposed match is accepted, we work closely with the adoptive family to assure they are prepared to provide a loving, stable and permanent home. As needed, the Adoption Recruiter acts as a change agent, identifying and addressing systemic barriers and advocating on behalf of the youth and families we serve to guarantee that our children have forever homes.

Program Success To Date

Wendy’s Wonderful Kids has 122 recruiters nationwide and in four Canadian Provinces. The program has helped more than 2,500 children find their forever homes. The effectiveness of the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids model was put to the test with an unprecedented, rigorous five-year study. Its findings are significant and substantial – to the benefit of those waiting to be adopted. Not only are children who are served by WWK recruiters 1.7 times more likely to be adopted than those not served by the program, children referred at age 15 or older and children with mental health disorders are three times more likely to be adopted.

Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Alaska has historically functioned through the Office of Children’s Services. In 2011, Catholic Social Services was awarded the grant for a part time Adoption Recruiter. In November 2011, eleven matches were reported for the nineteen youth thus far served through the program in 2011.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the children in the program?

Children in foster care were removed from their families due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. A child might live temporarily with extended family, a foster family, or in a group home while social workers try to help the birth family. If the birth family’s problems can’t be resolved, the State of Alaska goes to court to assure a child is legally available for adoption. At this point, social workers try to find a safe and loving adoptive family for the child.

Wendy’s Wonderful Kids range from late toddlers to late teens. The average age range of a child in foster care is 8. Every race, ethnicity and socio-economic group is represented. Some children are alone and others are waiting with siblings.

What are the qualifications to adopt through foster care?

There are no specific requirements of age, income, or marriage status. Adoptive families are as diverse as the children who are available for adoption. In most cases, adoptive applicants become licensed foster care providers through the Office of Children’s Services, unless they are a relative to the child. In all cases, adoptive applicants must have a background check.

What qualities are important for parents who adopt?

Traits like flexibility, patience, good problem-solving skills, good sense of humor and a willingness to identify local community resources are all critical. Children don’t need perfect parents, just loving individuals willing to meet the unique challenges of parenting and make a lifetime commitment to caring for and nurturing them.

What is the adoption process?

Adoptive applicants must take adoption preparation classes and have a positive home study before being allowed to adopt. An adoptive child must reside in an applicant’s home for six months, minimum, before a legal adoption can take place.

What is a home study?

A home study is an in-depth application and interview process that involves in person interviews, reference checks and home visits to assess whether someone is appropriate match to the child and prepared to adopt. A child specific home study looks at whether or not adoptive applicants can effectively meet the basic and special needs of the child they have applied to adopt. Home studies average three months to complete.

How much does adoption cost?

Foster care adoption costs typically range between $0 and $2500, depending on circumstances. Adoptive applicants are eligible to receive federal adoption tax credit (see information on How to Fund Your Adoption). The State of Alaska has the ability to refer families for the adoption home study within Alaska at no cost to the family. Sometimes adoptive parents are awarded subsidies. Subsidies offer adoption assistance to families who need additional resources in order to make a long term commitment to a child with special needs successful.

Contact

To learn more about legally free youth that need forever homes, please contact:

Angela Perry-Carter
Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Adoption Recruiter, Catholic Social Services
907-222-7378 (phone)
907-258-1091 (fax)
aperry-carter@cssalaska.org
3710 E. 20th Avenue, Anchorage, AK 99508