Public-private partnership will find forever families for longest-waiting youth
Columbus, Ohio — The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, a national nonprofit public charity, is proud to announce an expansion of its signature program, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids®, to find permanent homes for children in Indiana’s foster care system. This unique public-private partnership between the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS), the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and The Villages of Indiana will fund adoption professionals to serve children and youth at risk of aging out of foster care without a family, including teenagers, children with special needs and siblings. Over the next three years, the number of recruiters will grow from 4 to 30.
“Every child, no matter their age, deserves the love of a family. We never want to see children waiting to feel that love and the stability a family provides,” said Shannon Schumacher, President and CEO of The Villages. “Through the generosity of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and our partnership with DCS, our dynamic team of adoption professionals will have staffing resources across the state to support older children and youth to be adopted. Team members will work with the people most connected to these foster youth with a goal to find a safe, loving and caring home. The Villages team has done a tremendous job growing partnerships with the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and DCS, so we can all positively impact youth and families in our state.”
“We have a long and successful history working with The Villages, which has been implementing our Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program for the past 14 years,” said Rita Soronen, President & CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. “We look forward to expanding this program statewide to ensure that there are enough adoption professionals to serve Indiana’s most vulnerable youth waiting in foster care, who need the security and support of a permanent family, now more than ever.”
A rigorous, five-year national evaluation revealed 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 expansion pilot of the program, Ohio became the first state to scale Wendy’s Wonderful Kids statewide in 2012. In 2017, the Foundation launched an aggressive business plan to fully scale the program across all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Indiana is the first state to expand in phase two of the Foundation’s multi-year plan, joining previously scaled states, including Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah and Washington.
To date, the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program has found permanent homes for more than 10,000 children across the United States, including 160 youth in Indiana.
“Wendy’s Wonderful Kids has already made an incredible impact in Indiana,” DCS Director Terry Stigdon said. “Every child deserves a family. Every child needs love. Expanding this partnership and program will help make it possible for every child to find their forever family. By continuing to work together, we will find safe, loving homes for even more of our children.”
About the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption
The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is a national nonprofit public charity dedicated exclusively to finding permanent homes for the more than 150,000 children waiting in North America’s foster care systems. Created by Wendy’s® founder Dave Thomas, who was adopted, the Foundation implements evidence-based, results-driven national service programs, foster care adoption awareness campaigns and innovative grantmaking. To learn more, visit davethomasfoundation.org.
The Villages of Indiana
The Villages of Indiana is among the state’s largest licensed and accredited family and child services non-profit agency with over 18 offices in Indiana. Established in 1978 through an initiative of the Lilly Endowment, The Villages professional team provides foster care licensing and placement, adoption and post-adoption services, and wrap-around family support programs. In 2020, the organization’s staff served over 10,000 individuals in Indiana through 15 programs, which include Indiana Healthy Families, Kinship Care and Older Youth Services. The Villages is the umbrella agency for Prevent Child Abuse Indiana and Dad’s Inc. For more information, visit VillagesKids.org.