British Columbians looking to adopt children and youth from care can now begin their journey online through Adopt BC Kids, announced Minister for Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux in advance of Adoption Awareness Month (Nov. 1-30).
“We’re moving adoption in B.C. into the 21st century,” said Cadieux. “We heard from adoptive parents that the old paper-driven, ministry office-based system was cumbersome and just too slow. Adopt BC Kids allows people to manage their application online and helps streamline matching functions for adoption workers, helping us find the right family match for waiting children, quicker.”
Adopt BC Kids is the first website of its kind in Canada — no other jurisdiction offers a personalized and user-friendly system that captures all the foster children available for adoption and the prospective families in one accessible database. Parents can track which of the required documents have been received by the ministry, where they are in the process and better understand next steps. The journey starts with obtaining an identification code from Service BC.
“Adopt BC Kids supports our belief that online and mobile technologies only improve adoption information, support and education,” said Karen Madeiros, executive director of the Adoptive Families Association of BC. “It provides improved access to all waiting parents, and allows applicants to check their application any time, in any location. Helping more adults through the adoption process helps the children waiting for families, and Adopt BC Kids is a big help.”
Prospective parents can narrow their search by different criteria, like the age range of kids they are interested in adopting, whether or not they can adopt a sibling group, and if they are willing to consider providing a permanent home to a child with special needs. Once approved, applicants are given extra clearance to access pictures, video and audio of suitable adoptees. The site also allows families to post pictures and write about their interests and lifestyle, in their own words.
“I think the most exciting aspect of Adopt BC Kids is how it ensures adoptive parents know what stage their application is at, and exactly what they need to do next,” said Jen Hillman, adoptive parent and family support counsellor for Adoptive Families Association of BC. “The automatic system takes the guesswork out of matching parents with a waiting child and, as an adoptive parent to two great kids, now 31 and 25, I only wish this service had been available for me as it offers the support and information parents need to give a child a safe, loving home.”
Adopt BC Kids is strengthened by the addition of new adoption service hub staff who will work with families to ensure all supporting documents, like criminal record and reference checks, are completed and included in the application package prior to it going to an adoption worker for review. This enables adoption workers to focus on in-person parent interviews and home studies.
Adopt BC Kids is a secure site, and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner was included in all stages of its design. Only users who have completed a full criminal record check, home study and have been approved to adopt can access the site and browse adoptive children’s profiles.
If you are interested in becoming an adoptive parent to one of B.C.’s waiting children or youth, call 1 877 ADOPT-07 or visit: www.gov.bc.ca/adoptbckids
- No other jurisdiction in Canada has a system that captures all the children available for adoption and all the families applying to adopt in a single database, with a computerized matching system that’s built-in and automatic.
- Streamlining the adoption process aligns with B.C.’s stance as a national leader in red tape reduction. Learn more about how the B.C. government is reducing red tape for British Columbians at: gov.bc.ca/helpcutredtape
- In 2015-16, the Ministry of Children and Family Development exceeded adoption placement targets, marking the highest annual adoption count since the Adoptions Act came into effect in 1997.
- $30.7 million is allocated for adoption promotion this year, up $3 million from last year.
- Adoptive parents come from diverse backgrounds and have a range of life experiences. Any B.C. resident 19 years of age and over, who is interested in providing a loving, nurturing home, may be eligible to adopt.
- Many of the children and youth still waiting for adoption are school aged. They may be siblings who need to stay together. Some may have special placement needs due to difficult early childhood experiences, prenatal exposure to alcohol or drugs, learning delays or other developmental challenges.
- For a list of Adoption Awareness Month events taking place in communities throughout B.C., visit: www.bcadoption.com/all-events
For more information on the adoption process in B.C., visit: www.1000familiesBC.com
Adoptive Families Association of BC: www.bcadoption.com
Contact the Adoption Reunion Registry toll‐free at 1 877 387‐3660 or visit: www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/adoption/reunion/index.htm
How the B.C. government is reducing red tape for British Columbians: www.gov.bc.ca/helpcutredtape
A backgrounder follows.
Government Communications and Public EngagementMinistry of Children and Family Development
Here’s what’s changed thanks to the new Adopt BC Kids website:
- Families no longer need to go into a local office and book an appointment with a social worker as they can get all the information they need online: www.gov.bc.ca/adoptbckids
- Families can attend an information session (a Waiting Child Session) online and no longer have to wait for in-person sessions, which run every month or two.
- The Ministry of Children and Family Development now has specialized staff to process adoption applications rather than prospective adoptive parents having to wait for an adoption worker with a full caseload to process their documents.
- Applicants can be referred to an online Adoption Education Program (AEP) right from the online system once they have completed their criminal record and prior contact checks, and no longer have to wait for their full application to be accepted.
- The new personalized and user-friendly system provides automatic matching between families and children, meaning matches will occur more frequently with minimal effort.
- Through the system parents can track which required documents have been received by the ministry, where they are in the process and better understand next steps, removing some of the guesswork and uncertainty of the prior paper-based process.
- Approved families can now view photos and videos of children without going into their social worker’s office, and can send emails directly from a link on the child profile they are interested in to their worker.
- Approved families can create their own family biography to help give adoptees a better sense of who they are, thereby improving the matching process.
- Adoption Workers who previously spent time processing applications can now spend more time working with families, completing homestudies and facilitating matches between prospective parents and waiting children.
- Overall, prospective families will spend less time waiting – no more waiting for information sessions, for the office to open so you can drop off your application, for an appointment with an adoption worker, for the busy worker to process your application, for the AEP referral – and, hopefully, less time waiting for homestudies to be started and matches to be made.