as Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association's innovative programs started to capture the interest of national child welfare practitioners, they re-branded as FosterAdopt Connect in order to claim own our identity and our work.
In 1998, I joined a handful of Kansas City-area foster parents at a support group meeting in Eastern Jackson County. In that meeting, people who were new to fostering, and people who had fostered for a while, were sharing their experiences and challenges and seeking solutions together. I quickly decided that I wanted to be a part of creating solutions for families like mine. We named ourselves the Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association (MFCAA). At that time I was a foster parent with 13 years of experience, and so they made me their ‘president.’ Focusing on solutions has been a way of life for us since we started as that support group for foster and adoptive parents 18 years ago. We incorporated in 2000 (we wrote our 501(c)(3) application at my kitchen table). We got our first grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in 2002, and empaneled our first Board of Directors in 2004. We hired our first staff member in 2005. In 2006, we helped organize a class-action federal court lawsuit to protect adoption subsidies for children adopted from Missouri’s foster care system (which we won), and we got our first license as a child-placing agency with the state of Missouri in 2008. We always supported families, but over the last eight years we have created the most innovative and successful child welfare solution focused programs in the metro area. But we didn’t stop there. We operate resource centers in southwest Missouri, northwest Missouri, and Johnson County, Kansas. We sponsor 11, parent-led independent chapters all over the state of Missouri. We now employ more than 120 staff members, and serve thousands of children and the families who care for them in Missouri and Kansas. We’ve had this level of growth because we hold some very firm beliefs on which we base every effort that this organization makes. First, we believe that every child is vitally important to our future. Second, we believe that children are created in, nurtured in, raised in, and develop in families. Families are the core component necessary for every child to thrive. Third, we believe that there is a solution to almost every problem, and ‘no’ is only the beginning of the conversation. And finally, we believe that we are uniquely positioned to be a voice for our children, and we are not afraid to use our voice on their behalf. We offer a wide range of creative and exciting programs that not only provide support to fostering families, but also find forever homes for older kids with significant behaviors, help foster and adoptive parents manage the serious needs of kids with mental health issues so that they can safely live at home, help young adults who have aged out of foster care solve problems which threaten their safety and well-being, and help families who have lost their kids to the state’s custody fix the problems that brought their kids into foster care. And we still serve as the voice for our kids and families – advocating in the media, at the policy level and through legislative and legal advocacy, at both the state and national levels. This year, as our innovative programs have started to capture the interest of national child welfare practitioners, we have re-branded ourselves with a new name in order to claim own our identity and our work. While the heart of our organization will remain in the Midwest, our programs and solutions are poised to make a national impact. We are FosterAdopt (kids, families, systems, and voices), and what we do is Connect (kids to families, families to resources, problems to solutions, and people to ways to help). Please find out more information about the important work of FosterAdopt Connect at www.fosteradopt.org.