2017 Year in Review

The following Year in Review is designed to provide a summary of programmatic, organizational, and fundraising milestones achieved by Waiting Child Fund (transforming to Kinnect) in 2017.  Founded in 2005, the mission of Waiting Child Fund (transforming to Kinnect) is to develop partnerships that transform beliefs, values, and actions to achieve permanency for all children in the shortest time possible.  We believe that childhood is a fundamental human right and that every day for a child in foster care is a day in crisis.  We envision a world where families, agencies, resources – and children – work together so that every child is loved and nurtured in a permanent chosen family.

January 2017 – The Board of Directors formally approved a new three-year Strategic Plan.  This was the first time in the history of Waiting Child Fund (transforming to Kinnect) that a multi-year plan was developed which established clear and concise program and operational goals and objectives.  The following five goals were developed for 2017-2019:

  • Program & Services: Partner with public and private agencies to bring them innovative programs that help them achieve their permanency goals.
  • Financial Development: Grow and strengthen the economic sustainability of Waiting Child Fund (transforming to Kinnect).
  • Operations: Further refine our operational infrastructure to support our efforts. This includes the areas of; human resource, accounting/bookkeeping, program support, IT and office management.
  • Relationship Management: Design plans and implement tools that focus on cultivating relationships, increasing funds and supporting the expansion of programs.
  • Board Development: Maintain a highly effective Board of Directors.

March 2017 – The 12th Annual FUNraiser to benefit Waiting Child Fund was held at 78th Street Studios in Cleveland.  The event theme was “Live from the Red Carpet” and guests dressed as their favorite film characters.  The FUNraiser generated more than $30,000 in profit.  Kevin McNulty, our newest Board Member at the time, led a “fund-a-need” ask of the guests and successfully raised $10,000 to help fund the development of a new office space for Waiting Child Fund.  One of the operational objectives of the organization was to explore new office space to help facilitate our capacity building and growth.

April 2017 – Amy Milroy joined the team as our first Office Manager to help increase the operational and programmatic capacity of the organization.  Amy works 30 hours a week and has had a compounding impact on our ability to focus on our mission and programs.

After more than 1.5 years of planning and development Waiting Child Fund helped Fairfield County Protective Services launch a custom designed Family Finding / Family Group Decision Making model.  The program is focused on finding, engaging, and empowering kinship connections for children when they first enter the foster care system.  The model was designed in collaboration with public and private agencies around the country and is the first of its kind in Ohio.

May 2017 – Waiting Child Fund was awarded a federal Quality Improvement Center grant to help find permanency for LGBTQ youth in the Cuyahoga County foster care system.  The partners on the grant-funded work include the University of Maryland, Case Western Reserve University, Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services, and the LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland.  The program was designed with our partners in Oakland, CA and focuses on youth empowerment, family finding, and youth acceptance work.  Local funding was also secured from the St. Luke’s Foundation and Cleveland Foundation to support the development of a Youth PRIDE Board and to hire a Family Specialist on a full time basis.

June 2017 – With pro bono and in-kind support from construction companies, small businesses, and individuals, Waiting Child Fund was able to move from the old office space of 550 square feet to a new space of 2600 square feet.  The new space includes a full kitchen, a board & training room, private offices and collaborative work space.  The move was made possible through generous donations of money, time, and materials secured in large part through connections of our Board of Directors.  The contributed labor and materials have been valued at more than $75,000.

July 2017 – Through a unique partnership with Stark County Job and Family Services, 30 Days to Family was launched in Canton with the training of two Family Specialists and one supervisor.  As a champion of Family Finding work and a strong partner of Waiting Child Fund, Stark County helped to demonstrate the importance of pro-actively bringing best-practice from other states to local Ohio counties.  More than 80 staff and supervisors participated on a “Dream Team” to design the changes in practice and programs they wanted to see at the agency.  30 Days to Family was one of seven program recommendations developed by the Dream Team.

August 2017 – The 12th Annual WCF Golf Outing was held and raised more than $23,000 to benefit Waiting Child Fund, including more than $5,000 in fund-a-need support for a Development Director position.  This was the first funding received to help begin to fund the Development position which is directly focused on helping to increase the operational capacity of the organization.

The 3rd Family Finding Convening was hosted by Waiting Child Fund in Columbus, OH.  The event was attended by more than 100 child welfare leaders from across the state and included national and international speakers and leaders, including Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Family Finding model author Kevin Campbell.

September 2017 – The Waiting Child Fund received a $1,000,000 grant in Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to implement 30 Days to Family in 10 Ohio Counties.  The grant-funded program also includes foster care recruitment and family support development to support kinship caregivers.  The collaborative partners also include Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition in St. Louis, MO and PolicyWorks in Virginia as the program model authors and nationally recognized evaluator of the program.  The grant funding is anticipated for two years with a sustainability plan for program implementation for years three and beyond.

November 2017 – A new partnership with Clark County, OH was formally developed and a two-year initiative was launched to transform the agency’s Family Search and Engagement practice.  The goals of the program include the efforts to find, engage, and partner with kinship caregivers for children at all levels of their foster care system.  Similar to the Fairfield and Stark County efforts the work will be designed and driven by staff and agency leadership.

The 8th Annual Scrabble Tournament was hosted by Vikki & Todd Webster and raised more than $15,000 to support Waiting Child Fund.  The event’s expenses were donated by the hosts and 100% of all ticket, sponsorship, and auction donations were contributed to the organization.

December 2017 – Maria Roehrkasse was hired as the Project Director of 30 Days to Family – Ohio.  Maria holds a Master’s Degree from Case Western Reserve University in Social Work and has experience in the mental health field.  She brings a tremendous amount of passion and dedication to the work and is fully committed to helping to achieve the goals of the program.