PLATINUM2023

Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption

Finding forever families for children in foster care.

Dublin, OH   |  www.davethomasfoundation.org

Mission

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is dedicated to dramatically increasing the number of adoptions of children waiting in North America's foster care systems.

Ruling year info

1992

President & CEO

Ms. Rita Soronen

Main address

4900 Tuttle Crossing Blvd.

Dublin, OH 43016 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

31-1356151

NTEE code info

Foster Care (P32)

Adoption (P31)

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Children are placed in foster care after enduring abuse, neglect, parental drug use or other issues, and many have experienced countless layers of trauma, grief and loss in their lives. The priority of the foster care system is to keep families together, but when a judge has ruled that it is unsafe for a child to return to their family of origin, they need someone to step forward to adopt them. More than 450,000 children are in foster care across North American, more than 140,000 of whom are available for adoption. Each of these children need a safe, loving and permanent home. Each year, more than 20,000 youth age out of foster care in North America. With nowhere to turn for support, many are at a higher risk of experiencing homelessness, unemployment and other negative outcomes. The Foundation won't stop until every waiting child has the stability and security of a forever family.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Wendy's Wonderful Kids & Child-Focused Recruitment Model Training

Through its Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption provides funding to public and private adoption agencies to support the hiring of adoption professionals, known as recruiters, who are dedicated to finding permanent homes for children in foster care who are too often overlooked. That includes teenagers, children with special needs and siblings. These professionals use an evidence-based, child-focused recruitment model to find the right family for every child in their care. A rigorous, five-year national evaluation by Child Trends revealed that children referred to Wendy’s Wonderful Kids are up to 3x more likely to be adopted. More than 500 Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters are currently serving children lingering in foster care across the United States and Canada. To date, more than 13,000 children and counting now have a forever family with help from their Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters and support from the Foundation’s generous donors.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Through its Adoption-Friendly Workplace program, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption raises awareness about the impact of adoption benefits and provides free resources — including an employer toolkit and sample adoption benefits proposal — to support organizations that are striving to become an adoption-friendly workplace. In addition, the Foundation releases an annual Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces list, which recognizes organizations that are leading the way in providing adoption benefits, including paid leave and financial reimbursement.

Population(s) Served
Adults

National Adoption Day is a collective effort to raise awareness of the more than 113,000 children waiting to be adopted from foster care in the United States. A coalition of national partners — the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, Alliance for Children’s Rights and Children’s Action Network — launched National Adoption Day in 2000. During this annual event, courts and organizations in more than 400 communities across the country have opened their doors on or around the Saturday before Thanksgiving to finalize and celebrate adoptions from foster care. To date, National Adoption Day events have recognized more than 75,000 children moving from foster care to a forever family.

Population(s) Served

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption takes a collaborative approach to raising awareness of the urgent need for foster care adoption. The Foundation conducts research to better understand beliefs about foster care and adoption and educates audiences through public service announcements, social media and the promotion of free educational resources accessed by thousands of potential parents, adoption professionals, corporations and community groups each year.

Population(s) Served

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption provides national grants in the U.S. that target specialized foster care and adoption communities, post-adoption support and critical child welfare awareness, research and policy enhancements. In addition to funding Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program grants in all 50 states and D.C., the Foundation also awards strategic national grants to adoption agencies and organizations that help to advance its mission.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Adults
Adults

Where we work

Accreditations

Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance 2022

Charity Navigator 2020

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of downloads of the organization's materials and explanations

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

At-risk youth, Families of choice, Foster and adoptive children, Foster and adoptive parents

Related Program

Adoption-Friendly Workplace

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption provides free educational adoption resources, which are viewed by tens of thousands of people each year.

Number of hours of training

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Wendy's Wonderful Kids & Child-Focused Recruitment Model Training

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

The Foundation conducts training and workshops to teach WWK recruiters, supervisors and other adoption professionals about our Child Focused Recruitment model, which is proven to be 3x more effective.

Number of clients served

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Related Program

Wendy's Wonderful Kids & Child-Focused Recruitment Model Training

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption serves the longest-waiting children in foster care across North America. These numbers represent the number of children on Wendy's Wonderful Kids caseloads.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is committed to dramatically increasing the number of adoptions of children waiting in North America's foster care systems. Our vision is that every child will have a permanent home and a loving family.

To advance our mission, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption believes it is not just about building an approach that finds forever homes for waiting children. It is about understanding the needs and lived experiences of the children we serve, improving access for families who want to adopt from foster care and building an organization that serves the broader child welfare community in North America. The Foundation’s strategic priorities and signature programs are grounded in research and created with a racial equity lens. We are committed to nurturing a diverse, inclusive and equitable work environment for our staff, while advocating for measurable change toward racial equity within the child welfare system.

In 2004, the Foundation created its signature program, Wendy's Wonderful Kids, to aggressively find permanent homes for children who have been lingering in foster care the longest, including teenagers, children with special needs and siblings. Through Wendy's Wonderful Kids, the Foundation supports the hiring and training of adoption professionals, also known as recruiters, who implement an evidence-based, child-focused recruitment model. While other types of adoption recruitment can be successful, child-focused recruitment has been proven to be the most effective approach to achieving permanency for young people in the Foundation’s focus population because it focuses on finding the right family for the child, respects a child’s voice, privacy and dignity and roots in the belief that every child is adoptable.

We break down barriers for families pursuing adoption through programs, such as Adoption-Friendly Workplace. The Foundation encourages employers to provide adoption benefits and offers a toolkit to help develop their policies. The Best Adoption-Friendly Workplace survey informs the release of a list each fall recognizing organizations that strive to make adoption a supported option for every working parent.

We take a collaborative approach to raising awareness of the urgent need for foster care adoption. More than 20 years ago, we co-founded National Adoption Day to encourage courts to open their doors on or around the Saturday before Thanksgiving each year to finalize and celebrate adoptions from foster care. To date, National Adoption Day events have recognized the adoptions of more than 75,000 children across the U.S.

Finally, we provide national grants in the U.S. that target specialized foster care and adoption communities, post-adoption support and critical child welfare awareness, research and policy enhancements. In addition to funding Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program grants, the Foundation awards strategic national grants to adoption agencies and organizations that help advance the Foundation’s mission.

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption’s valuable relationships with policymakers, government leaders and decision-makers allow us to influence policy and practice change on behalf of waiting children.

The Foundation created Wendy’s Wonderful Kids in 2004 with seven pilot sites as a platform to engage more partners, to transform failing child welfare practices and, most importantly, to aggressively find the right families for children waiting much too long to be adopted.

By 2007, the Foundation was supporting Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and launched our first site in Canada. In 2012, backed by rigorous evidence of the program’s effectiveness, the Foundation secured a significant public-private partnership with the state of Ohio to scale Wendy’s Wonderful Kids. The model for this partnership has led the way for the Foundation’s scaling expansion across the United States and Canada.

We currently support more than 500 Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters across all 50 states and six Canadian provinces. The Foundation also employs more than 60 staff members, with plans for growth to serve even more children within our focus population.

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption implements evidence-based, results-driven national service programs. Our signature program, Wendy's Wonderful Kids, has resulted in more than 13,000 adoptions, including guardianships and reunifications when it is a safe option. The program is being implemented in 50 states, D.C. and six provinces in Canada.

A rigorous, five-year randomized control trial national evaluation revealed that children referred to Wendy’s Wonderful Kids are up to 3x more likely to be adopted.

Backed by evidence of the program’s effectiveness, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption launched an aggressive, multi-year business plan in 2017 to expand the reach of the Wendy's Wonderful Kids program in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. During phase one of the plan (2017–2020), statewide expansion began in Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah and Washington, while continuing to support the scaling in Ohio and the hiring of adoption recruiters and build momentum across the nation.

Currently in phase two, the Foundation is working to deepen and sustain our impact in phase one scaling states and pursue expansion in at least 10 more states in the near term. To date in phase two, new scaling states include Indiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

Along with successfully finding permanent homes for thousands of children in foster care, the Foundation commissions research to understand public attitudes about foster care and adoption and inform messaging. The 2022 U.S. Adoption and Foster Care Attitudes Survey conducted by The Harris Poll, revealed that more Americans are considering building their family through adoption, with 37% of adults who have not adopted considering adoption (3% increase from 2017), and that 67% of adults believe every child is adoptable (a 9% increase from 2017). However, more work must be done. Unfortunately, more than half of Americans (51%) mistakenly believe that children are placed in foster care because they are juvenile delinquents. It is a misconception that we must continue to fight.

The Foundation’s community of generous and diverse donors are critical to sustaining and growing the reach of our work to give more children waiting in foster care the best possible opportunity for a bright future with the support of a permanent, loving family.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

Financials

Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption

Board of directors
as of 04/05/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Robert Geen

Deepak Ajmani

The Wendy's Company

Julie Bieszczat

Barney Enterprises Management Services

Laura Butrico

The Rawson Group

Eric Daly

Coca-Cola

Pamela Farber

Thomas Family Companies

Jelani Freeman

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Kris Kaffenbarger

The Wendy's Company

Rich Krumholz

Delight Restaurant Group

Jhonny Mercado

JAE Restaurant Group

Blair Miller

Cox Television

Scott Moeschberger

Taylor University

Wendy Thomas Morse

Thomas Family Companies

Sean Niklas

Saren Restaurants, Inc.

M. Coley O'Brien

The Wendy's Company

Mike O'Malley

Wendy's of Bowling Green

Todd Penegor

The Wendy's Company

Pete Suerken

Quality Supply Chain Co-Op

Tamika D. Williams

The Duke Endowment

Mike Zak

The Wenzak Companies

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 4/5/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Decline to state
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

Transgender Identity

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 04/05/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.