The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (DTFA) and its Wendy’s Wonderful Kids initiative strive to increase adoptions of foster children in the United States and some provinces in Canada. A recent evaluation of the program found that it is more successful in attaining the goal of adoption than traditional casework and adoption models.
The Wendy’s Wonderful Kids (WWK) program, funded partially from donations from Wendy’s restaurants, administers grants through DTFA to adoption agencies across the country who then work with local professionals to place children in the foster care system with adoptive families. The process is highly individualized, with much attention paid to getting to know the children and placing them with recruited, well-vetted families according to the history, strengths and unique needs of the youth. In this model, WWK staff carry a caseload of 12 to 15 children.
The evaluation found that overall; the youth in the WWK program were more likely to be adopted (1.5 times more) than youth outside the program and those who had mental health diagnoses were three times more likely to be adopted than their counterparts in the control group. Also, as the age of the child increased, so did the likelihood that they would be adopted compared to youth receiving traditional services; for example, the report states that youth entering the program at age 11 were twice as likely to be adopted and those referred at age 15 were three times as likely to be adopted. Taking this data at face value it appears the model used by the WWK works exceptionally well with youth sometimes considered more challenging to place in adoptive families (those with special needs, teenagers, etc.).
Demographics of the intervention group, a more detailed breakdown of the findings and information on the WWK program model are available in the Evaluation Report Summary and other evaluation materials at the Child Trends website. A fact sheet of the findings is also available.
Citation of Evaluation Report: Malm, K., Vandivere, S., Allen, T., DeVooght, K., Ellis, R., McKlindon, A., Smollar, J., Williams, E. and Zinn, A. (2011). Evaluation Report Summary: The Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Initiative, Child Trends, Washington, D.C.