Ampersand Families recruits and supports permanent families for older youth, and champions practices in adoption and permanency that restore belonging, dignity and hope.
Impact and Programs
In fiscal year 2016, Ampersand Families met all of its programmatic goals outlined above. One of our staff is almost done with her NMT(R) certification and has begun to do the assessments under supervision of the instructor. We secured private foundation funding to pay for our first 6 assessments and to cover the costs of individual consultations for families as they learn to access the mind-body services indicated by the NMT(R) Assessment. Our staff grew by two during the fiscal year, including the addition of a full-time Program Director who is taking the lead in family support services program development. Of course, the impact that is most significant is the number of youth we have helped move out of temporary foster care and into permanent adoptive families. In fiscal year 2016 Ampersand Families represented the youth and/or the family in 32 adoptive placements and/or finalizations. Since the agency's founding, 135 youth have received child specific recruitment services. Of those youth, 82% were age 10 years or older at the time of their referral, and all but a handful of those younger than 10 years old were part of a sibling group with at least one 10+ year old. Twenty-four of the youth who have received child specific recruitment services were age 16 years or older at the time of their referral. Forty-four percent of the 135 youth who are receiving/received child specific recruitment services were youth of color. The age and race targets are important to Ampersand Families, as the agency is committed to providing permanency services to the youth most over-represented among Minnesota's waiting children. Forty-one individuals completed pre-adoption training and 65 individuals (21 families) had a home study completed during fiscal year 2016. Ampersand Families is also home to the Minnesota Heart Gallery, a program that harnesses the talents of about 150 professional photographers around the state who take photos of waiting children of any age. The photos, which capture the spirit and personality of the child, are provided to the child and the adults responsible for recruiting an adoptive family. This program serves youth under guardianship of the commissioner of human services without priority to older youth or youth of color (as is the case with our child specific recruitment services). The demographic information provided in the section on Organizational Information profiled all the youth and adults we serve, including Minnesota Heart Gallery, Child Specific Recruitment and family training, home study and placement support.
Ampersand Families' board and staff completed a 3-year Strategic Plan in May 2016. That plan laid out several strategic initiatives for the next three years, including: 1. Increase in number and diversity our pool of adoptive and buddy families; 2. Strengthen organizational infrastructure; 3. Develop a comprehensive communications plan to effectively reach a more diverse pool of stakeholders; 4. Continue to provide leadership in community initiatives aimed at increasing accountability and transparency in Minnesota's child welfare system. All of these strategic initiatives have programmatic components, most significant being our commitment to increasing the size and diversity of our pool of adoptive and buddy families.
Community or Constituency Served
Ampersand Families is Minnesota’s only nonprofit agency focused solely on meeting the permanency needs of older youth (age 10 years and older) and sibling groups in the child welfare system. We are a resource for youth, families and professionals seeking to promote permanent relationships between teens who have experienced trauma and committed adults who will help them heal. One of five private agencies under contract with Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to provide adoption services to youth under guardianship of the Commissioner or a Minnesota tribe (often referred to as “state wards”), Ampersand Families provides permanency services at no cost to counties or families planning to adopt a Minnesota youth.
Geographic Area Served
One of five private agencies under contract with Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to provide adoption services to youth under guardianship of the Commissioner or a Minnesota tribe (often referred to as “state wards”), Ampersand Families provides permanency services at no cost to counties or families planning to adopt a Minnesota youth. Permanency Specialists (adoption workers) will on occasion travel outside of Minnesota to the surrounding states in the event that a youth on his or her case load has moved to an out-of-state residential program. Ampersand Families encourages and accepts referrals from any of Minnesota's 87 counties or tribes for youth under their jurisdiction and awaiting adoption. Not all counties are familiar with the organization but learn of our services through the Department of Human Services other surrounding counties or our outreach. Ampersand Families is only licensed to work with adoptive families within the state of Minnesota.