The Annie E. Casey Foundation is known for being laser-focused on improving the lives of children, so it makes sense that it backs efforts to promote adoption. And that's a good thing, too, since it turns out that we still have a lot to learn about adoption. Much work needs to be done to dispel myths in this area and to strengthen programs that are giving kids permanency at every stage of childhood.
One organization the Casey Foundation has long supported in this effort is the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. Founded in 2001, the CCAI raises awareness about the needs of children without families and works to remove barriers to successful adoption. Casey has been a funder since 2004.
Among the myths CCAI is working hard to dispel is that older children are not adoptable. In fact, permanency can happen at any time for a child, right up until they are age 18, and more outreach to potential adoptive parents regarding the risks and benefits of adopting an older child can help make these adoptions happen. With the right support and guidance, foster-to-adopt parents can adopt an older child and build lasting bonds.
As an aside, we would note that at a time when Americans are having fewer children, and when a growing percentage never have children, adoption makes more sense than ever. In theory, there should be room in a lot of hearts for kids in need of homes and family.
CCAI also discovered a unique way to go from micro to macro in terms of helping foster youth and impacting policy issues. Since 2003, they have hosted current and former foster youth from across the nation in their summer internship program. In 2013, CCAI hosted 16 youth in a program that provides a structured orientation, retreat, and networking luncheons.
The interns interact with members of congress and their staffs to inform them about issues with the U.S. foster care system. At the end of the summer, the interns present a congressional briefing about adoption and foster care issues. An experience like this can contribute greatly to the education of young minds and formation of positive identity, while also directly impacting policy for adoption issues.
CCAI also does amazing things with its Angels in Adoption program, which gives awards to families all over the country who have taken on the challenge of adopting a child. This program helps to highlight successful adoptions and raise awareness about the particular challenges that adoptive families face. With all of these programs, it is no wonder that the Casey Foundation is investing in CCAI.
And our bet is that Casey's money makes a big difference, since it appears to be one of the few major foundations that supports CCAI.