Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Extreme Recruitment: Foster Care Edition

My good friend Shelly is a CPA and stay-at-home mom. She is also a really cool person, which is why I roped her into becoming the volunteer treasurer for the Southwest Chapter of the Ohio Association for Infant Mental Health. She slid into a chair next to me during a monthly meeting recently and placed an article about foster care on the table.

"Check this out. This is awesome," she said enthusiastically. I had to laugh.

The Time Magazine Article and the concept behind it were awesome. In March 2008, Melanie Scheetz sat down to watch an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and wondered how massive teams of professionals and volunteers could build a luxury home in a week yet foster kids wait in limbo on average for one to five years before achieving permanency.

Under Scheetz' direction, Extreme Recruitment was born. Under the Extreme Recruitment Model, long-lost relatives are zealously sought for hard to place foster kids in need of permanent homes. The Extreme Recruitment Team includes two full-time private investigators who track down a minimum of 40 family members per child languishing in the system. The outcomes are promising. Seventy percent of Extreme Recruitment's children were matched with families. This is an outstanding accomplishment. I can't help but wonder if the fates of severely abused Victor Barahona and his murdered twin sister, Nubia would be different if they had an Extreme Recruitment Team looking for family members prior to their adoptions.

When Shelly put the article in front of me, I had to laugh because this is exactly what I think will ultimately help children. They will be helped when people who aren't normally involved in the system become engaged. We can all make contributions, no matter what our skill sets, to further the mission of helping vulnerable kids in our own unique way. The government alone cannot save these children. But together, we can.

At our monthly meetings, Shelly is a lone CPA in the midst of therapists, social workers, and childcare professionals. While we talk kids and families and trends, she talks business and dollars and bottom lines. She will likely never be a foster or adoptive parent or on the frontlines of infant mental health work, but that's OK. She's doing the part she can do and passing on good information in the process.

What might you have to offer?