At the 2019 Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Summit, the Foundation recognized the following recruiters and supervisors of the year for their life-changing service on behalf of children in foster care who need our help the most. These individuals are representative of the more than 550 Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters and supervisors who are leaders and heroes for all that they do every day.
Supervisors of the Year
Kathy Searle and Chelsey Winegar, The Adoption Exchange (Utah)
In July 2018, Utah added five new sites as the Foundation worked to expand Wendy’s Wonderful Kids across the state. Kathy (pictured top) and Chelsey have worked diligently to ensure that new recruiters are well-trained and have the right resources and supports in place to successfully implement the evidence-based, child-focused recruitment model.
Kathy and Chelsey organized lunch & learns for recruiters to review components of the model, discuss successes and challenges and offer guidance, as needed. Additionally, every quarter, all Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters at The Adoption Exchange work together to take a deeper dive into a component of the model.
With Kathy and Chelsey’s support, recruiters are finding lasting connections for youth who have been on the caseload for years.
Recruiters of the Year
Laura Wilson, General Child and Family Services (Manitoba)
In 2014, Laura began working with two brothers who had been in foster care for years. Committed to finding them a permanent family, she tracked down the boys’ paternal grandmother and arranged for them to spend the holidays with family in New Brunswick to learn more about their roots.
The brothers were adopted by their grandmother in 2018. Laura reflected that many older children can be against adoption at first, “but gaining their trust, building a relationship and doing work to prepare them moves the ‘no’ to a huge, happy ‘YES!’”
Patti Hebert, Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services
Patti’s dedication to and advocacy for the children on her caseload does not stop when the workday ends. She is there whenever her children need her. On many occasions, Patti has taken time out of her personal life to drive children to visit their siblings who have been placed in another home or to spend time with other family members. Patti treats the children on her caseload as her responsibility and works to find every child a loving, permanent home.
In one case, Patti provided ongoing support to a boy’s foster family and helped them to better understand how vital permanency is to youth waiting in foster care. Her efforts aided in the family’s decision to welcome the boy into their home forever just four months before his 18th birthday.
Monica Lopez, Upbring (Texas)
A young man placed on Monica’s caseload had been in foster care for 12 years. She worked hard to build rapport and trust with him. Eventually, Monica learned that before the boy had entered care, he had a strong relationship with several paternal relatives. They were anxious to be involved after missing out on so much of his life.
Monica organized multiple meetings to help the young man become reacquainted with his family. Eventually, he moved in with his great aunt, who adopted him in January 2019 shortly after his 16th birthday. Monica offered critical support throughout the process, requesting that a kinship worker be assigned to his case, sharing adoption resources and answering questions.
We are grateful for Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters and supervisors who work every day to find permanent homes for children waiting in North America’s foster systems.