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The Adoption Exchange Changes The Future For Children In Foster Care

AURORA, Colo (CBS4) – The Adoption Exchange is a 501©3 nonprofit working to change the future of older children living in foster care.

"Really finding that one caring adult, who can change a kid from a statistic to a success story," said Lauren Arnold, Executive Director of the Adoption Exchange.

LINK: The Adoption Exchange

The statistics for the Adoption Exchange are pretty impressive. Since its inception in 1983, The Adoption Exchange has connected more than 8,600 children with a loving family.

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In 2016 – 2017, the organization served 1,252 children living in foster care:

-81% of them were 9-years-old or older

-37% of them were sibling groups of two or more

-53% of them were minorities

"We don't just place a kid into a home. We really do a lot of work to try and help a kid and family adjust to what life will be like with a new member of the family," Arnold explained.

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The Adoption Exchange has added new post-adoption programs and training, including a Trust Based Relational Intervention Care Giving class and in-home support that helps meet the needs of each individual family.

"What changes the trajectory of a child is a family. And helping that family to really learn how to work with that child, to help them heal and recover from the world that they've been in, is so important," Arnold told CBS4.

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The Adoption Exchange is also expanding its intensive recruitment program, which works on finding adoption opportunities for children who are the hardest to place. Each child is assigned an intensive recruiter who builds a relationship with the child, mines their family services record for connections, and works with caseworkers to advocate for the child. The Adoption Exchange spends about $7500 per year, per child on this kind of recruiting.

"For us it's not so much the joy of working with the children, but knowing that we've connected families and kids and that we really have made a difference in the world of a child," Arnold said.

LINK: Make a Donation to The Adoption Exchange

Children, who don't get adopted out of the foster care, age out of the system at 18-years-old.

"At 18, we're asking these children to live on their own and make good decisions every single day," Arnold said.

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The outcomes for teens who've aged out of foster care are usually not good:

-50% face homelessness

-60% will be chronically unemployed

-60% of men will be convicted of a crime

-75% of women will require government assistance

-50% will struggle with substance abuse

"For a child that ages out, it actually costs us, as a society, about $300,000 per child, that's in substance abuse treatment, social services they may need, and incarceration cost," Arnold said.

RELATED: Wednesday's Child Profiles

CBS4 has partnered with The Adoption Exchange for 37 years. Each week, the station profiles a child who's eligible for adoption during our Wednesday's Child segment. In fiscal year 2016-2017, 37 children were profiled on Wednesday's child, and four of them have entered into a long-term connections.

LINK: A Day For Wednesday's Child

One day a year, CBS4 and The Adoption Exchange celebrate successful adoptions on A Day for Wednesday's Child. From 4:30 a.m. to 10:35 p.m., the station dedicates time within its newscasts to raising money for and awareness of adoption.

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"This is a forgotten population, and for us, it just brings such enormous relief that someone is paying attention to these children."

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