As staff and board members at Ampersand Families, we have a sort of credo — a list of guiding principles. They aren’t radical, yet given the state of the child welfare system you could be forgiven for thinking they are.

Here they are. Read them. If you feel the same, find out how you can help us create a Minnesota where all teens have the permanence they need and deserve.

At Ampersand Families, We Believe:

  • No child or youth should have to earn the right to belong to a family.  No youth ought to be allowed to emancipate from the child welfare system without a legal connection to a family.
  • Similarly, no child or should should be expected to forfeit their right to relatives, kin, community and culture simply because his or her parents are struggling.  At Ampersand Families we help restore and strenthen these connections.
  • Older youth from the child welfare system are adoptable, whether or not they “look ready”. They become more ready for adoption as they participate in the decisions being made about their own lives.  Healing happens in the context of relationship; each day permanency is denied is a day of potential healing lost.  Forever.
  • Families who have the desire and ability to adopt teens are to be treated with respect by child welfare professionals.  Respect is demonstrated by assuring that families are adequately prepared and supported from their initial inquiry until as long after finalization as they wish.  Respect is demonstrated by clear, honest and proactive communication with families at every step in the adoption process.
  • Youth currently in residential treatment or correctional settings are more motivated to successfully complete their programs if they have a committed, engaged family supporting them and awaiting their move home.  This is one of the best times to match a youth with an adoptive family because of the plethora of supportive resources and professional training/support available to both youth and parent.
  • Even if they are adopted, youth should be supported in their efforts to maintain ongoing birth family relationships. Birth and adoptive families can and do build relationships for the benefit of the child they all love.
  • We expect parents to make an unconditional commitment to the youth they adopt.  Therefore, it is only fair that we make an unconditional commitment to our families. As long as Ampersand Families exists, we will be here with free services for our parents — no matter how long after the adoption and no matter whether public money is available to cover our costs.

The mission of Ampersand Families is to recruit and support permanent families for older youth, and to champion practices in adoption and permanency that restore belonging, dignity and hope.

Our vision is that every young person whose life has been disrupted by trauma and subsequent child welfare intervention will be restored to a safe, permanent family with an urgency that honors the brevity of childhood. Learn more about our mission and vision.

Board Member Reflections Notes from Michelle Staff Reflections

About Me Michelle has worked with youth in out-of-home care since 1989, her child welfare career has included front-line staff positions in residential settings, a home-based intensive supervision worker, and youth development work in a therapeutic foster care agency. Prior to co-founding Ampersand Families in October 2008, Michelle directed The Homecoming Project, a federally-funded Adoption Initiatives program to increase adoptions of teenagers from Minnesota’s foster care system. Read More

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