Athens Children Services Receives Wendy’s Grant

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Athens County Children Services is now participating in a new adoption program.

Executive Director Cathy Hill says the program is called Wendy's Wonderful Kids.
"Wendy's Wonderful Kids is a signature program of the Dave Thomas Foundation on Adoption. It's a grant that has allowed us to hire a Wendy's Wonderful Kids recruiter," said Hill.
Wendy's Wonderful Kids will help to identify permanent adoptive homes for children in Athens County and several surrounding counties in Southeast Ohio.
"The goal of Wendy's Wonderful Kids is to find permanent adoptive homes for children who are lingering in foster care. It's a challenge in every county in Ohio and we've had great success here in Athens County but we're always in need of permanent adoptive families for our children," said Hill.
Cathy Hill says Athens County Children Services has hired a recruiter whose only job is to find adoptive homes for waiting children.
"We have been awarded a grant to hire a recruiter who will be trained in the Wendy's Wonderful Kids model. It's a model that was developed by the Dave Thomas Foundation on Adoption, it's a national, evidence-based model and it's child specific. So a recruiter will actually be trained specifically in that model and will work with children in Athens County and our region," explained Hill. 
Studies have shown that the Wendy's Wonderful Kids program is very effective in finding homes for children over the age of 15 and for children with mental health disorders.
"They really hone in on the specific needs of the child and look to locate families that are a good match for children with special needs, with large family groups or children who are a little bit older, making them more difficult sometimes to find a permanent family for," said Hill. 
The program will serve a seven county area: Athens, Gallia, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Perry, and Washington.
Recently there were 186 children in foster care in these counties, and of those children, 33 are legally freed for adoption.
Southeast Ohio is the only region in the state without a large metropolitan pool of potential adoptive families from which to draw, which can make recruitment for children difficult.
Additionally, five of the counties participating in the Southeast Ohio arm of the Wendy's Wonderful Kids program currently have no financial support from a levy and have been hit particularly hard by cuts in the state budget.