Wendy’s Wonderful Kids®

Through its signature Wendy’s Wonderful Kids (WWK) program, the Foundation provides grants to adoption agencies to hire and train recruiters in our Child-Focused Recruitment Model to find loving, permanent homes for the more than 117,000 children waiting in foster care across the United States. This model is up to three times more effective at serving children who have been in foster care the longest, including older youth, sibling groups and children with special needs.

Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Recruiters

Our WWK recruiters work with smaller caseloads of children most at risk of aging out of the foster care system. This model ensures that they have the time and resources to give each child as much attention as he or she deserves. These professionals are determined and relentless, using proven tactics focused on finding the best home for a child through the starting points of familiar circles of family, friends and neighbors and then reaching out to the communities in which they live.

To date, nearly 400 adoption recruiters have made significant progress in finding adoptive families for nearly 8,000 children in foster care across the U.S. and Canada.

Find a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids partner agency in your area.

Our Children

The children served by the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program are typically those who have been waiting the longest for an adoptive family. By the time they are referred to a WWK recruiter:

  • 90% are older than age 8
  • 33% have had six or more placements
  • 52% have been in foster care more than four years

Some have never had anyone advocate for them to be adopted and have simply been on a track to age out of foster care at age 18 or 21, without the security and love of a permanent family.



The Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Evaluation is an unprecedented five-year study of the Foundation’s Child-Focused Recruitment Model in the United States foster care system. The evaluation represents the most rigorous empirical study of adoption recruitment practices to date, providing much-needed information about practices and policies that improve the likelihood of permanent adoption for children in foster care – especially children with whom the child welfare system has had little success using traditional adoption practices. The control group research showed that children in foster care served by the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program are 1.7 times more likely to be adopted than those not served. Older children and those with mental health challenges are 3 times more likely to be adopted when served by Wendy’s Wonderful Kids. The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program is the only program in the United States that uses this Child-Focused Recruitment Model.

The evaluation used automated random assignment of children into treatment (WWK) and control (non-WWK) groups and administrative data from state child welfare agencies about children in the treatment and control groups. It included more than 1,200 children in 23 states. A qualitative study and interviews with parents and youth were also conducted. Access more information about the results.


Adoption Attitudes Survey

The 2017 National Foster Care Adoption Attitudes Survey was commissioned by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption to better understand Americans’ attitudes about foster care adoption. The Foundation partnered with Nielsen to survey more than 1,400 American adults online. Similar surveys were conducted in 2012, 2007 and 2002.

In the United States, there are more than 117,000 children in the foster care system available for adoption and more than 20,000 age out of the foster care system every year without families. Understanding Americans’ perceptions about adoption is important to finding a safe, loving and permanent family for every child. We are addressing the myths and misconceptions that Americans have about foster care adoption, and by doing so, the Foundation can more effectively move children from foster care to the permanent and nurturing families we promised when they were removed from their biological families.

One of the highlights from the 2017 survey is that 58% of Americans believe all waiting children are adoptable, a 7% increase from the prior survey.


Foster Care Attitudes Survey

Every five years, we measure Americans’ and Canadians’ attitudes about foster care adoption.

Past surveys: