In a beautiful and vital part of life, children need to be part of a family unit where they are raised in a stable home and are fed, nurtured and protected, enabling them to thrive. Unfortunately, this is not the experience for every child, with the reality that far too many, for a number of reasons, are unable to live safely with their family. Too often this also exposes them to a life of moving from house to house, or into institutional care, without the experience of a nurturing family life.
At Adopt Change we believe that every child has the right to grow up in a safe, nurturing and permanent family home, and that all families need the appropriate supports for children to thrive. We want to see more families able to care for their children and when they cannot, for those children to be provided with what they need.
Adopt Change is a not-for-profit organisation with a mission to support and educate families and communities in caring for displaced children to achieve our vision of a world where all children grow, learn, play and thrive in a safe, nurturing and stable environment. We provide support resources, training, education and programs to work towards achieving this goal.
Adopt Change Founder Deborra-lee Furness established the organisation in response to the needs of children who had been orphaned or were living in temporary care, along with the challenges and distress experienced by children and families navigating the complex adoption processes in Australia. Ms Furness speaks passionately about the rights of children, “Every child needs a home where they can feel safe and know that they’re going to be seen and heard, that they feel precious and that at least someone has their best interest at heart.”
Today, under the leadership of CEO Renee Carter, Adopt Change works with Australian state and federal governments, the child welfare sector and the community in order to achieve the common goal of #aHomeForEveryChild.
“You can fill a football stadium with the number of children and young people currently unable to live safely at home. Every child has the right to grow up in a safe environment and have the opportunity to thrive. Adopt Change exists to ensure that families with children who have experienced trauma are well supported,” says Ms Carter.
Around a staggering 46,000 children live in the out-of-home care system in Australia. With infants and young children under the age of 4 representing the highest proportion of admissions to out-of-home care, and babies under one year old the most likely to be at risk of entering care, support and education around caring for these children is critical.
Children who have had an experience with impermanent care are three times more likely to suffer from drug and alcohol addiction, four times more at risk to diabetes and five times more at risk to heart disease. They have increased chances of experiencing homelessness, mental health problems and difficulty finding stable employment.
Permanency and meaningful adult attachment are necessary for a child to experience a normal developmental trajectory. If reunification or placement with family is not possible, adoption is a valid pathway to permanency for a vulnerable child.
Some of the vital work Adopt Change does to raise awareness of the plight
of children experiencing impermanency includes:
- Supporting families affected by childhood trauma through trauma informed education via conferences, workshops and online resources
- Providing MyPacks for children entering the foster care system or emergency out-of-home care. MyPacks are first night back packs for children and contain essential items to make their initial nights in care more comfortable.
- Working to change legislation and policy in regard to permanency through bringing together government, child welfare experts and community at the annual National Permanency Conference.
- Commissioning research to support better outcomes for children.
- Operating the government-funded program My Forever Family NSW to recruit, train, support and advocate for foster carers, kinship carers, guardians and adoptive parents for children in out of home care in NSW.
- Providing resources and support for young people preparing to leaving care through the Empower Change program.
- Coordinating the annual National Adoption & Permanency Awareness Month #Yesvember to promote improvement to permanency legislation, policy and practice to facilitate a community where a child’s right to stability is prioritised.
There are several ways you can help Adopt Change support children and young people:
- Donate to support our work
- Knit a blanket for our MyPacks, for kids entering a new home for their first night
- Learn about becoming a carer
- Volunteer your time with our Changemaker team
- Connect with us and show your support online for Adopt Change’s vision for #aHomeForEveryChild,
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2021). Child protection Australia 2019–20, AIHW, Australian Government. doi:10.25816/g208-rp81
Blythe, S., Peters, K., Elcombe, E., Burns, E., & Gribble, K. (2021). Australian Foster Carers’ Views and Concerns Regarding Maternal Drug Use and the Safety of Breastmilk. Children (Basel, Switzerland), 8(4), 284. https://doi.org/10.3390/children8040284