From Adoptalk 2019, Issue 4. Adoptalk is the quarterly newsletter of the North American Council of Adoptable Children (NACAC).
In today’s world, time is the most precious commodity we have. As we manage our families’ busy schedules, multiple responsibilities, and work, we often lack time for learning, despite a sincere interest in it. At the same time, online resources have grown in leaps and bounds, and the internet has swiftly become the place where most of us go to find information. That’s why AFABC is dedicated to developing responsive, effective online resources that meet the needs of the adoption and permanency community. We’d like to introduce you to two of them: Adoption Basics and AgedOut.com.
Adoption Basics is an online presentation that helps prospective adopters answer the question: “Is adoption right for me?”
Launched in 2018, Adoption Basics allows prospective adopters to understand the ins and outs of adoption and determine if they are a good fit to move toward the application process through the Adopt BC Kids Portal.
Adoption Basics does this by:
- Increasing access to appropriate and relevant information regarding adoption.
- Improving knowledge about the basics of adoption in BC.
- Increasing awareness about the support services AFABC offers.
AFABC developed the content for Adoption Basics with input from Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) social workers and consultants, prospective adoptive parents, adoption agency leaders, and Indigenous groups. We identified eight core topics to cover:
- Adoption in BC
- Adopting from foster care
- Local agency infant adoption
- International adoption
- Parenting considerations
- Child and youth considerations
- Next steps
Adoption Basics includes videos of real adoptive families, clickable graphics, checklists, and additional resources to help prospective parents every step of the way. On average, it takes prospective adopters about 45 minutes to review the information in Adoption Basics.
Since launching in November 2018, Adoption Basics has been viewed more than 2500+ times. We know through client inquiries driven to AFABC’s other resources that individuals are exploring more after completing Adoption Basics. We believe they are using that knowledge to make informed decisions about whether to advance with an adoption application.
Shortly before beginning its effort to launch Adoption Basics, AFABC partnered with MCFD to explore the needs of youth and young adults who were in care or had recently left care. The team began by talking to the young people themselves about what information they needed and how they wanted to receive it. While AFABC was not surprised to hear what young people needed—support in navigating housing, education, health, and finances—the surprise came in how they wanted this support. Young people wanted a one-stop online warehouse to access the most current information when they needed it.
They also wanted something that was easy to use. Youth quickly identified that their top barrier to accessing information about aging out of care was their frustration in wading through dozens of websites to find relevant information, followed closely by them not understanding the information they found.
To counter this challenge and answer the needs of young people, AFABC received funding from MCFD to partner with youth with care experience to create AgedOut.com, a unique online platform with relevant information about all things important to youth aging out of government care.
From the topic headings and names to the colours and design, young people’s voices were (and still are) central to all developments on AgedOut.com. We learned early in the development stages that youth in care are more likely to respond to messages from their peers. Therefore, all the videos on the site feature youth from care sharing their experiences on specific topics. Our motto is nothing for youth, without youth.
Launched in June 2015, AgedOut.com has rapidly become the place for young people in and from care to find up-to-date information about things that will support them to thrive in their transitions and become contributing adults in their communities. The site contains numerous information and service pages under six topic headings: housing, education, health and wellness, money and income, ID needs, and personal life. It even goes a step further and provides opportunities for youth to learn important life skills such as why permanency is important, how to reconnect with family members, and how to have tough conversations.
The site has a gamified approach that makes learning fun. For example, youth can use emoticons to state how they feel and collect badges for clicking on information or watching videos. AgedOut.com uses online learning quests, which are animated life skills experiences, to educate users on what they need to know in an engaging way. Youth from BC who are or have been in care also have the opportunity to earn while they learn and collect up to $150 in gift card rewards from places such as Amazon, The Body Shop, Walmart, gas stations, and grocery stores.
Today, the site has more than 4,250 users, 58% of whom are young people with government care experience who are between the ages of 16 and 29. Based on feedback from youth who use the site, it continues to evolve with new assets, such as information pages and more life skills quest like the “Get in motion: sport and physical activity” quest launched in December 2019.
We know that the internet and social media have become the main source of information for 21st-century families. AFABC has curated an online community to fulfill all your adoption needs. Our digital services include on-demand webinars, online workshops, and other learning opportunities; Facebook support groups for every step of your adoption journey; Family Support Workers available via online chat, email, and Messenger; and a website with hundreds of articles, publications, and info pages. Visit bcadopt.com to find out more.
Taryn Danford is the Director of Child, Youth, and Family Services, and Lucie Honey-Ray is the AgedOut.com Project Lead at the Adoptive Families Association of BC (AFABC). Taryn has led efforts to pilot programs related to community engagement, child rights, youth leadership, and cultural safety and practice. Under Lucie’s leadership, AgedOut.com has tripled in size and has engaged more than 1,500 youth in and from care to lead the continued development of AgedOut.