Hosting and Mentoring
A program of The Adoption Exchange, in partnership with the Colorado Department of Human Services, to create lasting connections for Colorado’s foster children.
Each year in Colorado, more than 500 youth “age out” of the foster care system. These youth enter adulthood without any sort of permanent connection—no childhood home to go to for Thanksgiving dinner, no one to go to for advice before a job interview, no one to call when they’re having a bad day … no support system at all.
The CHOICE program intervenes before these youth “age out” of the system, by creating broader connections between youth and adults outside of the traditional adoption route. The program is built on the premise that once you make a connection with a foster youth, you will be compelled to help in a more permanent way and help him or her transition into adulthood.
Through this intensive, youth-focused recruitment program, foster teens, mentors, and community partners are engaged in a structured process that builds permanent relationships over time. Developing these permanent relationships dramatically improves the outcomes for older youth in the foster care system.
HOW IT WORKS
|Target Older Youth||The program benefits older youth ages 12 to 18 who are in foster care and are unable to return home.|
|Make Connections||At monthly events, youth and prospective families get to know each other in a no-pressure environment of fun, age-appropriate activities.|
|Utilize Youth Input||If a youth and adult express mutual interest, the relationship can advance to the next level where the child can stay a day or weekend with the host.|
|Build Relationships||The host then becomes a mentor and an advocate for the youth in all aspects of his or her life – looking out for the youth's overall well-being as well as engaging in recruitment activities on behalf of the youth.|
|Create Permanency||The model has shown that these relationships are enduring and successful, as both youth and host family often open up to the idea of adoption.|
- Adults and youth can get to know each other, without the initial intimidation of adoption.
- The environment is inherently nonthreatening to both the youth and adults.
- The innovative approach enlarges the pool of potential adoptive families.
- The CHOICE program emphasizes youth choices in creating connections.
- At a minimum, the youth form an enduring bond with a caring adult that survives changes in placements, caseworkers, and even communities, and transitions with them into their own adulthood.
- The framework of this program can be replicated across the country.
Families and volunteers must attend an Orientation Session prior to attending any program events.