CWLA Partners with Adoption Institute

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Citing tough economic times, two major child welfare organizations have formed a “strategic partnership” to take advantage of each other’s strengths and resources.

The Arlington, Va.-based Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) has teamed up with the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, a New York-based nonprofit that works to improve adoption policy and practice through research and advocacy.

Adam Pertman, executive director of the Adoption Institute, said the partnership is designed to help both organizations get better results despite making cutbacks during the recession. Pertman says the Institute has lost 15 to 20 percent of its revenue and has cut back on hours for hired help. CWLA recently cut its full-time staff by eight, taking it down to 44 members – less than half the full-time staff it had in 2007.

“In a climate where you can’t grow, realistically, how can you do more with the resources you have? One way is to not have to do it all yourself,” Pertman said.

The Institute and CWLA will collaborate on several projects that the heads of both groups say will enable them to better serve their members and clients.

For instance, CWLA will make its nearly 800 members available for surveys and research conducted by the Institute, which Pertman said will cut the Institute’s work in half. CWLA members will get materials produced by the Institute.

“They have a special reach and in-depth knowledge around adoption that we don’t have,” said Christine James-Brown, CEO of CWLA. “What they need is the reach of our membership and our public policy, and our focus on practice and how to improve practice.”

One survey will seek to identify best practices for working with gay and lesbian parents in order to increase the number of children who get adopted out of foster care.

Both groups will also work on planning and convening a White House Conference on Children and Youth in 2010, which has been a major objective of CWLA.

Another advantage of the move, James-Brown said: Whereas in the past CWLA would have hired an adoption specialist, through the partnership with the Institute, CWLA hopes to tap the same expertise in a more cost-effective way.

Contact: CWLA (703) 412-2400,; Adoption Institute (212) 925-4089,