SWAN Mini-grant Funds Creative Virtual Events
By Erika Schmitt, Director of Adoption & Permanency Services, Children’s Home of Pittsburgh & Lemieux Family Center
As a team with primarily social work or counseling backgrounds, technology can sometimes pose a learning curve; however, at The Children’s Home & Lemieux Family Center, we are lucky that our team is always up to the task. In November, we were able to use a National Adoption Month mini-grant to host COVID-19-safe virtual events and connect with families who wanted to learn more about foster care and adoption.
National Adoption Month mini-grants, which the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ Office of Children, Youth and Families graciously provided, support adoption/permanency recruitment and/or adoption awareness events during the month of November. When we learned about the opportunity to apply for a mini-grant, we were excited. We worked with our chief development officer and her staff to come up with a creative plan that would engage not only our own clients, but individuals throughout our community who wanted to learn more about adoption from the safety and comfort of their homes. After a brainstorming session, we decided to host a virtual trivia game and a contest through social media.
The theme of our trivia game was “Adoption: Then and Now.” It was a 30-question quiz about adoption history, current trends and well-known adoptees, and the game ran for eight days. We had 62 participants, and we got great feedback about how much people learned. Thanks to the mini-grant, we were able to offer prizes for participatio—each correct answer in the game earned players an entry into a drawing for prizes.
This trivia game also kicked off our social media campaign. We developed a point system to encourage interaction with our social media posts, awarding a grand prize to the person who obtained the most points throughout the week. This encouraged people to engage and learn, and also to share our posts with their social circles. Our posts featured information about the need for families to provide permanency to children in foster care. We also shared touching stories from adoptive families.
The mini-grant allowed us to boost our social media posts to reach an even wider audience. Each post reached between 350 and 550 individuals. As a result, we received 32 visits to our website directly from the posts. In November and December, we saw an increase in inquiries and orientation attendees. We received 34 inquiries from individuals wanting to adopt from foster care, and a record number of 14 families attended our December Adoption from Foster Care orientation meeting. Five of those families have moved on to begin the process.
While we certainly missed being able to hold an in-person event, we also were thrilled to have the opportunity to expand our skills, be creative, and connect with so many people looking to learn about adoption!