February 19, 2002
MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG ANNOUNCES LAUNCH OF "Meet Our Kids" SECTION OF THE ACS ADOPTION WEBSITE
New resource will help match foster kids with families looking to adopt
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Administration for Children's Services (ACS) Commissioner William C. Bell today announced the launch of Meet Our Kids, an interactive portion of the ACS website that brings the adoption process on-line. The site, which can be accessed at www.nyc.gov/adopt, is a searchable database of photos and stories of children who are waiting for a permanent, adoptive family.
"Every child deserves to grow up in a safe and stable home, and to know they have a family for life, not just until they are eighteen," Mayor Bloomberg said. "Meet Our Kids uses the latest technology to reach out to a larger audience of prospective adoptive parents who may have considered private or foreign adoption, and been unaware of the possibility of adoption through the City of New York. A lot of hard work went into the development of this new site and I want to thank Commissioner Bell and his talented team for pulling it all together."
"ACS is proud of the record 22,000 adoptions we have been able to finalize over the past six years, but many of our children are still waiting to be placed with a loving, permanent family," Commissioner Bell said. "We believe that the Internet will significantly increase the number of inquiries from the public - in the first month alone, Meet Our Kids has been seen by almost 1,000 visitors to the site. Our hope is that these inquiries continue to increase and that many more of our children are matched with a family to call their own."
Meet Our Kids currently includes a pool of approximately fifty-eight children, and new photos and biographies will be added weekly. All of the children featured on the site have had their parental rights terminated through the Family Court system and currently reside in a temporary foster care placement. Participation in the on-line program is completely voluntary; children over the age of 10 may opt not to participate.
The team that created Meet Our Kids includes ACS, the National Adoption Center (NAC) in Philadelphia, Earthpledge, a web design company, the NYC Department of Information, Technology and Telecommunications and the NYC Human Resources Administration, which hosts the database on their server. Meet Our Kids builds upon a pre-existing ACS publication, the New York City Family Album, a printed photo album of children including biographies and demographic information that is distributed to foster and adoptive parent recruitment agencies, and libraries in all five boroughs.
"While this new technology will greatly increase our ability to reach out to potential parents, the most important step that any parent thinking about foster or adoptive parenting can take is to sign up on-line or call our hotline to register for an orientation session," added Commissioner Bell. "During the orientation session, parents will get all the information they need to start the process and will have a chance to meet the staff at ACS who are here to help them every step of the way."
The ACS adoption website enables New Yorkers to sign up for foster and adoptive parent orientation sessions, provides prospective parents of an overview of the process, and includes success stories of families who have completed adoptions through the City of New York. Features of the Meet Our Kids database allow users to:
- Browse the database of children and sibling groups including photographs and short biographies.
- Search for children by age, gender, race, special needs and size of sibling group.
- Learn about the children in their own words through child narratives.
- Communicate directly with ACS regarding a particular child by using the "Inquire About a Child" feature.
During January 2002, the first month that Meet Our Kids was operational, there were more than 800 hits to the ACS adoption homepage, and almost 1,000 visitors to Meet Our Kids. That same month, Internet inquiries accounted for 45% of the approximately 400 monthly requests for further information.
New York City has completed a record-breaking 22,000 adoptions since 1996, which is over 60% more than the previous six-year period. Of the almost 28,400 children currently in foster care, ACS estimates that as many as one-fourth will eventually need an adoptive home. While most of these children live with pre-adoptive, foster families, there are currently about 800 children in need of an adoptive home. The ACS adoption campaign focuses on finding families for these children.
For more information about adopting or fostering a NYC child, New Yorkers can access the ACS adoption website at www.nyc.gov/adopt or call the ACS Parent Recruitment Hotline at (212) 676-WISH (9474). Outside of New York State, call toll-free at (877) 676-WISH (9474). The hotline is operational Monday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and staffed by trained foster care and adoption representatives who can answer questions in English and Spanish. Prospective parents can also call the hotline to find the location nearest them where they can view a hard copy of the NYC Family Album.