MARE finds adoptive homes for children and teens waiting in foster care.
MARE serves children and teens in the Massachusetts foster care system who are not able to be reunited with their birth families and need permanent adoptive homes. We provide vital services to these children by working with the Commonwealth’s Department of Children & Families (DCF) and its contracted agencies to register each child that cannot be reunited with his or her birth family and then recruiting families that meet an individual child’s very specific needs.
MARE has two programming departments, Child Services and Family Support Services. Child Services engages in child-specific recruitment, finding an adoptive family to match a particular child’s needs. Family Support Services advises families interested in adoption and provides assistance to those going through the process. MARE’s model uses these complementary programs to cast as wide a net as possible to find potential adoptive families and then match them with a specific child whose needs they meet.
MARE’s Child Services Team engages in child-specific recruitment of families by developing an individual recruitment plan around the needs and strengths of each child with the goal of finding the right family to adopt them.
Tools used in child-specific recruitment:
Child Registration and Matching. Child Services Coordinators (CSCs) register waiting children in collaboration with their social workers, and then work to match them with families that have registered with our organization. CSCs also work with national databases to promote specific children and search for out-of-state families that may be a match.
Child-Specific Media Campaigns. Individual waiting children or sibling groups are featured in media campaigns using a strengths-based model to appeal to potential adoptive parents for the featured child(ren) and to promote adoption from foster care and MARE to a wide audience. Examples include Sunday’s Child in The Boston Sunday Globe/ Boston.com, and Wednesday’s Child on WBZ-TV 4.
Adoption and Informational Events. An adoption Meet and Greet is an interactive event that brings together waiting children, their social workers, and prospective adoptive families in a low-pressure atmosphere. Adoption Meet and Greets are MARE’s most successful recruitment tool. MARE also hosts matching nights where prospective families can have in-depth conversations with social workers about waiting children on their caseloads.
Heart Gallery Portrait Exhibit. The Heart Gallery is a photography display featuring waiting children. It is MARE’s most forward-facing recruitment tool as it can be showcased in a multitude of public spaces in any area of the state. MARE is moving to a digital format to expand the number of galleries and provide an interactive experience that will provide a mechanism for real-time inquiries from prospective adoptive families.
MARE Web Services. MARE’s extensive web services allow prospective adoptive families to view photos, profiles, and videos of waiting children from all over the state. Families can also search MARE’s database to find and inquire about children who might be a good fit for their family.
Intensive Recruitment Services. MARE is pleased to be implementing Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, a signature program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. Through Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, the Foundation provides grants to adoption agencies to hire and train adoption recruiters who implement the Foundation’s evidence-based Child-Focused Recruitment Model. 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. MARE currently has two Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters, who work with smaller caseloads, ensuring that they can provide these children with the attention, resources and support they need and find the adoptive families they deserve.
Specialized Recruitment Coordination is an additional innovative pilot program focused on a small caseload of waiting children in the Central and Western regions of the state with the most complex medical and developmental challenges. Recognizing the unique needs of each individual child, the Specialized Recruitment Coordinator creates an intensive and personalized recruitment plan for the child, including exploration of the child’s existing and prior social networks, mobilization of community resources and creative public recruitment strategies in order to move some of our most vulnerable youth more successfully towards the permanency they deserve.
Family Support Services
Families come to MARE by inquiring about adoption in general or about a specific child for whom MARE is recruiting. The multi-faceted Family Support Services department provides support to the thousands of families who make the initial call to learn about adoption, recognizing that adoption from foster care is often a lonely, lengthy, and difficult journey.
MARE assists and supports families by:
- Staffing an information and referral helpline;
- Providing individualized follow up with all families who inquire about adoption from foster care, and referring families to agencies in their area;
- Providing education on topics of interest to prospective families via webinars, panels, a blog, and newsletters;
- Hosting networking events for families at varying stages in the adoption process;
- Registering the homestudies of waiting Massachusetts families’ and providing customized matching to identify children across the state as potential matches;
- Connecting families with providers of post-placement and post-adoption services;
- Working with experienced adoptive families to help spread the word about adoption from foster care whether in their own communities or through media; and
- Pairing experienced mentor families with families in process for support and mentorship through the Friend of the Family Program.