The Way Forward Project Charts Course for Children Living Without Families


The Way Forward Project Charts Course for Children Living Without Families

Joint learning project identifies both challenges and opportunities that lie ahead 

Washington D.C. – Today, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) will host a policy summit at 10:00 a.m. ET to present findings from its year-long “The Way Forward Project.”  (www.thewayforwardproject.org).

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered remarks, as did Senator Mary Landrieu, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Representative Karen Bass and Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and author of the best selling book The Purpose Driven Life.  The Summit was attended by the Ambassadors to the United States from Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda and Ghana and by 200 other experts from development, policy, and faith-based organizations working on issues affecting orphans and vulnerable children.  Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Janice L. Jacobs along with Special Advisor for International Children’s Issues Ambassador Susan Jacobs also attended.  The Summit served as a capstone to the year-long project and aimed to bring the The Way Forward Project’s Working Groups’ findings to the attention of U.S. funders and policymakers with a vested interest in Africa.

Launched in November 2010, The Way Forward Project was a unique effort to bring together 45 African, U.S. and international child welfare policy experts, practitioners, and researchers to discuss opportunities and challenges facing governmental and non-governmental organization leaders in six African nations (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda and Uganda) as they work to develop systems of care that serve children in and through families.  Over the past year, these experts have been engaged in a joint learning process and will release a final report on their experiences, thoughts and collective findings.

“We were motivated to do this project by one factor alone,” said Kathleen Strottman, executive director of CCAI. “Despite decades full of scientific evidence that to thrive, children need love, attention and a secure attachment with an adult, the number of children living without these things continues to rise.”

The 200 page report to be released as part of the summit identifies a series of initiatives that are already underway in the six focus countries. Members of The Way Forward Project’s four Working Groups were asked to study these efforts, as well as bring to bear research and best practices from other countries that might be of use in moving ahead.  At the core of the project was the finding that family-based care is the optimal environment for children and should therefore be the underlying goal for children who, because of things such as disease, war, violence and poverty find themselves living alone, on the streets or in institutions.

These sentiments were echoed by Senator Mary Landrieu, co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption and Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, “To achieve the goal of a family for every child will require the investment of us all.  It is not something that any one person, organization or sector can do alone.  And that is what is so exciting about efforts like The Way Forward Project, where doctors, lawyers, pastors, social workers, mothers, fathers and government leaders join hands and say, we are ready and willing to do our part to provide loving homes for children in need.”

“As we recognize November as National Adoption Month, I am pleased by the work that has already taken place to protect children on the ground in these six countries,” said U.S. Representative Karen Bass. “If further progress is to be achieved, global governments, community and church leaders must collectively pool our resources and develop a global strategy to support improving the policies that ensure welfare systems of nations around the world put children and their rights to a family first.”

“All I ever wanted was to love others, to be loved and feel a sense of belonging within a family,” said Nyanja Nzabamwita Brodin, a Rwandan orphan who also spent time in U.S. foster care. “It was not until I found those things with my own foster family that I could go on, develop and become a productive member of society.  I am excited to see such a diverse group of experts come together to try and give that permanency to other children.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar, a leading advocate for children without families, said, “Minnesota is blessed with many families who have adopted orphaned children from around the globe,” said Klobuchar.  “There are many more families who wish to do the same, and so many children are in need of loving homes.  We must work together to make the international adoption process as efficient and family-friendly as possible while also providing strong safeguards to protect children.”

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Jimmy Graham’s Unlikely Path

Jimmy Graham shares his story of despair and hope that led him to be adopted by Beck Vinson, who at the time was 25, taking care of her 5-year-old child and struggling to make it already. After Vinson began taking interest in Graham’s academics and began helping Graham improve his grades in school, Graham began to trust Vinson. “She was so determined,” Graham recalled. “She pushed me even though it was tough on her. She was poor, hard up for money, had a little kid and was trying to get through college. But I saw her, and I was inspired. I never had someone commit to me like that.”

Click here to read the story.  Watch the video clip here.

Jockey Inc Celebrates National Adoption Day on November 19th

Jockey is marking National Adoption Day on November 19 with a special token of thanks for families who are finalizing their adoptions that day. In partnership with the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption(R), Jockey will provide 1,000 newly adoptive families across the country with a specially-designed Jockey Being Family backpacks filled with a Jockey Being Family Bear, adoption educational materials and a congratulations letter from Waller. For many of these newly adopted children, this backpack may be the first thing they can call their own.

For more information visit: Jockeybeingfamily.com

Celebrate National Adoption Month

Today is the first day of National Adoption Month.  Throughout the month, policymakers, social workers, adoption advocates, and families will be coming together to raise awareness about the 107,000 children in foster care waiting to be adopted.  The Administration for Children and Families has a portion of their site devoted to information about National Adoption Month.

In a few short weeks, nearly 400 communities across the country will be hosting events on Saturday, November 19th in celebration of National Adoption Day.  These events are not only a special occasion for nearly 5,000 children that will be adopted during these events, but also is a way the community can come out to support families and learn about how to get involved in the life of a child in foster care.

These children need your help.  They are at risk for languishing in foster care for years not knowing the love and security of a family and never having their full potential realized because no one is encouraging or supporting them.

Please consider promoting National Adoption Day (NAD) in the following ways:

  • Encourage Elected Government Officials to support NAD.  Reach out to officials on the local, state, and federal level to encourage them to attend an event, issue a press release, write an op ed, issue a proclamation, or blog or tweet about NAD.  Call their office or send an email referring them to visit www.ccainstitute.org/nad for resources.
  • Engage the Media and Local Business.  Reach out to your local event planner and ask them if they need help inviting the local media, asking businesses to donate goods to the event, or ask faith-based organizations to promote this event.
  • Write, Blog, Facebook, or Tweet about NAD.  Encourage others in your community to get involved, and be sure to link to @natadoptionday and use the hashtag #nationaladoptionday.
  • Impact the Life of a Child.  Reach out to local government and non-profit agencies in your area to get more information about how to mentor a child, become a Court Appointed Special Advocate, provide respite care for children, become a foster parent, or adopt a child in need of a family.  Click here for more information.