November is National Adoption Month, and the need for permanent and loving homes for children awaiting adoption has never been greater, says Carlon R. Zanders, Chairman of the Children’s Home Board of Directors Society of Virginia.
“As isolated as many of us feel in these uncertain times, imagine what it feels like to children waiting in foster care for a permanent family with each passing day,” he says.
For the approximately 5,700 Virginia children in foster care and the state’s 1,700 children awaiting permanent homes, the Children’s Home Society is a lifeline. The non-profit organization is one of the oldest adoption agencies in the state, offering services to help children and adolescents be adopted into foster care, post-adoption services to children and to families after adoption and housing and other services for young people who are aging outside the foster family. system and start to live on their own.
“Agencies like the CHS are equipped to match and support adoptive families and children, even during the pandemic,” Zanders said. “We just need more families to come forward and adopt. “
The Chesterfield County resident and father of two has been chairman of the CHS Board of Directors since 2020. His main goal is to raise awareness of the needs and benefits of adoption and to support and expand capacity agency to serve children and families.
“As a father of two young daughters, I truly appreciate the gift of family and know how essential it is that children are brought up in a loving and supportive home,” Zanders said. “It is a travesty when children and young people do not have the opportunity to enjoy being part of a safe and permanent family. I believe our entire community benefits when children grow up in healthy families.
The CHS’s mission is particularly important in Virginia, which it says has the highest percentage of young people leaving the foster care system without a stable family compared to other states.
He said 23% of young people in foster care in Virginia were emancipated in 2019, compared to just 8% nationally. Virginia’s misclassification has real consequences, notes Zanders, with African-American children making up 30 percent of children awaiting adoption in Virginia.
The CHS, which was launched in 1900, continues to try to set a better standard for the state, with its work highlighted locally and nationally, including in a PBS documentary, “Aged Out: Finding Home” .
“I hope our efforts at the CHS will continue to be recognized as more awareness is raised about this vital cause,” Zanders said. “Our hope is to continue to make changes by improving more lives that need our help because every child deserves a home. “
Meet an advocate for strong and permanent families for young people and this week’s personality, Carlon R. Zanders:
1st volunteer position: Chairman of the Board, Children’s Home Society of Virginia
Occupation: President, Zan’s Refuse Service, a third generation family business specializing in residential and commercial waste collection.
Date and place of birth: May in Henrico County.
Where I live now: Chesterfield County.
Education: Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Finance, Morehouse College; masters in communication, Northwestern University.
Family: Wife, Angela, and two precious daughters, Kensington, 4, and Holland, 16 months.
The Children’s Home Society of Virginia is: A licensed, private, non-profit 501 (c) (3), non-sectarian child placement agency, and one of Virginia’s oldest adoption agencies. Since our charter by the Virginia General Assembly in 1900, CHS has been guided by the fundamental belief that every child deserves a home. To date, CHS has served nearly 15,000 children, youth and families in Virginia.
Mission of the Children’s Home Society: CHS’s mission is to create strong, permanent families and lasting relationships for at-risk children and youth in Virginia. Our vision is a thriving family for every child.
How this mission is accomplished: The CHS believes that every child deserves to be part of a safe and loving family. Thus, our core programs provide: 1) adoption services which aim to adopt children and adolescents out of foster families; 2) post adoption: services that support children and families after their adoption; and 3) comprehensive housing and support services that allow young people who have not been placed in foster care to thrive as independent adults.
Objective n ° 1 as chairman of the board of directors: Promote the mission of the CHS through activities that raise awareness of the need and benefits of adopting a child in expectation, as well as support and expand the agency’s service capacity.
How I will achieve the goal: By providing strategic leadership to the agency’s board of directors while promoting the CHS mission, as well as supporting the agency’s fundraising efforts that underpin an important part of our services.
How the CHS is funded: The CHS is funded primarily by the generous support of individual donors, businesses and foundations who share our belief that strong families are the cornerstone of a strong community. We also receive support through service contracts with the Virginia Department of Social Services, United Way partners, and certain fees for services.
Age group of children served: CHS serves children from infants to 18, with a focus on children between 13 and 18 who are waiting to be adopted into foster care.
Getting out of adoption means: Be released from the foster care system without support or supportive family ties.
The CHS My Path to the Future program: Serves young people between the ages of 17 and 25 who have aged, or are about to age, from the foster care system. We empower young people to thrive as independent adults by providing them with essential housing and supports that include education and skills training, employment, financial capacity, workforce and skills life, access to health care and links with permanent and supportive adult mentors.
CHS Foster Adoption Program: Recruit, train and support families to adopt children who are waiting to be adopted into the foster care system. We help families navigate the adoption journey so they always have our support and guidance.
Adoption costs and fees: The CHS does not want fees to be a barrier to adopting a child into the family who can meet their needs. So while there may be adoption fees, they are based on the family’s ability to pay and there may be no fees at all.
If you want to adopt, how does the process begin: Contact CHS, your local department of social services, or a local adoption agency that partners with the department of social services to start the adoption process.
The pandemic and adoption: The need for adoptive families is greater than ever. As isolated as many of us feel in these uncertain times, imagine how the children waiting in foster care for a new permanent family feel with each passing day. However, agencies like CHS are equipped to match and support adoptive families and children even during the pandemic. We just need more families to come forward and adopt.
A perfect day is: A day away from it all with family time.
What I am learning about myself during the pandemic: That I am extremely resistant. My waste collection business has been a major pivot during the pandemic to deal with the labor shortage and it has paid off. No mountain is too high and no problem is insurmountable; there is always a way.
How I calm my mind during difficult times: I think of my family, especially my little girls.
Three things I’m grateful for: Life, love and happiness.
Something I love to do that most people would never imagine: Parachute jump.
A quote from which I am inspired: “In whatever you do, strive to do it so well that no living man, no dead man, and no unborn man can do it better.” – Dr Benjamin E. Mays
Friends describe me as: Focused, pragmatic and brutally honest.
At the top of my “to-do” list: Take some time.
Best late night snack: Ice cream.
The best thing my parents ever taught me: Never give up. If a door closes in your face, never give up; open another door.
Person who influenced me the most: It’s three people actually. My grandfather, Ernest A. Dabney, who taught me that hard work and dedication pays off. Her model of waste collection laid the foundation for our business in 1949. My grandmother who was a schoolteacher, Ocie J. Walker, instilled the importance of education, investment and giving. My father, Carrol Zanders, never stopped believing in my abilities and was always by my side.
Next goal: Continue to take my business to the next level while continuing the rewarding work of the CHS. Last year our work at the CHS was featured in a PBS documentary, “Aged Out: Finding Home”. Hopefully our efforts at the CHS will continue to be recognized as more awareness is raised about this vital cause. Our hope is to continue to make changes by improving more lives that need our help because every child deserves a home.