In our continuing series featuring local non-profits serving Kansas City’s moms, children and families, we are thrilled to highlight FosterAdopt Connect (FAC). The goal of this series is to introduce you to some important local organizations and, even better, give you the little sign you’ve been looking for to encourage you to share your time, talents or treasures with these very worthy organizations.
While it started as a grass roots advocacy agency in 2000, FosterAdopt Connect has grown over the last 20+ years to become a one-stop shop for foster/adoptive parents as well as children in the system and their families of origin. Led by CEO Lori Ross (who has fostered more than 400 children and adopted 23 with her husband in the past 35+ years), FAC’s mission is to look for and fill gaps in child welfare in the KC metro area, as well as throughout much of Missouri and northeastern Kansas.
By hiring employees who have a lived experience with fostering and adoption — whether foster/adoptive parents, children of the system or folks who have otherwise been touched by the system — FAC is uniquely positioned to support abused and neglected children and the families who care for them.
FAC’s programs are geared toward all players in the system, supporting biological parents in an effort to keep children in their homes, supporting children coming into foster care, helping to get a child adopted, offering post-adoption support, and supporting young adults up to the age of 26 who have aged out of care.
Recognized by the Human Rights Campaign as an Innovator in Supporting and Serving LGBTQ Youth and Families, FosterAdopt Connect’s services are broad — from legal advocacy to behavioral intervention, licensing to training, food pantry to clothes closet and school supplies.
Searching Far and Wide
Jennifer Townsend, FAC’s Vice President of Children and Youth Programs, has been with the organization for seven years. Previously, Jennifer was working as a family advocate for HeadStart when she shared with a coworker that she really missed working with teens. That comment led to a new opportunity with FAC’s Extreme Family Finding program. I was so intrigued by this program, which pairs recruiters (people who find adoptive families for children in the system) with private investigators (FAC employs three!) to find as many relatives as possible from the child’s family of origin.
The goal of the Extreme Family Finding program is two-fold: dig deep and search far and wide to place a child with a relative from their family of origin, and/or connect that child with family members they may not have known or had access to previously.
While the Extreme Family Finding program is more of a last-phase effort to find a family adoptive resource for a child or sibling group, FAC’s 30 Days to Family program kicks in just as a child or sibling group enters the system and is placed in an emergency foster placement or shelter like the Salvation Army Children’s Shelter. The 30 Days to Family team works quickly to try to place children immediately in a long-term home.
What changes could happen that might joyfully put FAC out of business? What would have to happen for that to happen?
Eradicate poverty. It’s a pretty big ask. But honestly, most children come into care because of neglect. Most neglect is a direct result of poverty. There’s constant stress associated with poverty. Maybe parents leave their children home alone at an inappropriate age because they are working and don’t have access or funding for childcare. Maybe their home isn’t very clean because they don’t have time to get to that chore. Throw in drug abuse or mental illness and everything is just complicated.”
How can Kansas City’s collective of mothers impact FosterAdopt Connect’s work?
1. “I have always really felt like children in care are the most vulnerable population in the US. I’d ask that moms really give that some thought because, when children enter the system, in that moment, children really are society’s children, and that is OUR society. OUR kids.”
2. “If I were to make a big ask of your collective of mothers… we really need respite providers. If you have ever thought about fostering or adopting and you’re not quite ready, or if it’s not a fit for your family at the moment, you can make a huge impact by offering respite care. Even once a month or every other month is huge. Fostering can be really hard work and these parents could really use a break sometimes. Your first step is to call us and we can get you through the four easy steps of a background check, a home walk-through, a short licensure process and matching you to a placement.”
Aside from providing respite care, Kansas City families can participate in FAC’s annual Give Joy campaign that matches donors to children in care for holiday gifts. There are also many other opportunities to help year-round. Learn more by checking out the Get Involved page on the FAC website.