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Our youth-centered approach is the right thing to do. And federally-funded research proves that it’s three times more effective.

The results? More than 450 youth placed with permanent families.

What does it mean to be youth-centric? Simply put: our model prioritizes the needs of youth first.

There are fundamentally two different approaches to recruiting families for youth:

  • The traditional approach, where parents interested in adopting are trained, certified and then matched with children who start out as complete strangers.
  • Our model, known as child- or youth-centered recruitment turns the traditional approach on its head and starts recruitment from the child’s perspective.

We work with every young adult directly to identify significant people in their lives who may be willing to be their families – aunts, uncles, teachers, neighbors, social workers or parents of childhood friends. In our world, adoption is never about cutting a youth off from their history or connections. Instead, we help our children heal by extending the circle of support around them while ensuring that there is at least one person in the world who is well-prepared in making an unconditional, lifetime commitment to them.

When we are unable to find an existing friend or family tie, we pursue other possibilities for family for youth. Either which way, we offer rigorous 10-week parent preparation classes to train and prepare potential parents / families for the joys and challenges ahead.

We know this approach works

Over the past 18 years, we have placed more than 450 youth with permanent parents. We have made successful matches in nearly 60% of youth referred and the effectiveness of our approach was highlighted in the United Nation’s Children’s Fund’s 2012 report. (Check out page 102!)

And we have trained and prepared hundreds of parents to make an unconditional, lifetime commitment to a teenager through moral and legal adoption.

Three rounds of federally funded research, led by Cornell University Professor Rosemary Avery, PhD., show that You Gotta Believe’s model is a very effective method of adoptive parent recruitment for older children. The results were published in Children and Youth Services Review in their October 2010 issue entitled “An Examination of Theory and Promising Practice for Achieving Permanency for Teens Before they Age out of Foster Care.The article features You Gotta Believe’s model approach to permanency as a ‘best practice’ for adoptive family recruitment for older youth.

The most recent project was a 5-year grant to place Long Island’s longest waiting children. It provided a more in-depth look at our model and confirmed that when a third party dedicates time and attention to a teen’s need for a family, the teen has a very high chance of getting a family.

Our vision also requires massive systemic change so we also focus significant resources on outreach, advocacy, and training.

At the end of the day, we know every child can be adopted and this is what we focus on.

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