About Connecting Hearts
In August of 2014, Debbie Johnston was appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe to be Virginia’s Adoption Champion. An adoptee herself, Debbie is passionate about helping children find permanent, loving families. Debbie serves as spokesperson for adoption in Virginia, and is working to engage and educate the public in support of Virginia’s adoption program goals and objectives. Connecting Hearts was started to support the Adoption Champion’s efforts and will continue on after her appointment has ended.
Who We Are
As a non-profit, our team is comprised mostly of passionate interns and volunteers who want to make a difference in the lives of foster children in Virginia. By increases awareness and fundraising, we hope to better the lives of children and give them a sense of normalcy in their sometimes turbulent world.
How We Make A Difference
The foster care system can be a confusing and sometimes disheartening place. Through our fundraising and network of passionate volunteers, we strive to give children in foster care a brighter future, a sense of normalcy and belonging. Events like the our awareness golf event, “Birthday Bags”, numerous holiday gift events, Thanksgiving Day family meal, and overnight camps, allow foster youth to get out, play, and learn new skills just like any other kid. Our Work program also provides resources to older youth who are leaving the foster care system. These 5,000 plus kids in foster care are our future and they deserve every opportunity to have a “normal” childhood in an ever changing environment.
Connecting Hearts ensures that every child in Virginia has the opportunity for a loving home through addressing support needs across the state, partnering with other organizations, spreading awareness, and advocating. Virginia is home to over 5,000 children in foster care and over 850 children are waiting to be adopted.
Virginia is in last place across the country when it comes to having the most youth nationally aging out of foster care having not been adopted. Children that age out of foster care have a 20% chance of incarceration and 25% chance of becoming homeless.
Our mission is fairly straightforward – we strive to obtain permanency for children in foster care, be that reunification, kinship care, or adoption. To help us achieve this, we focus on the following:
- Increase education, awareness, and advocacy for adoption and foster care
- Educate the public as to the positive values of adoption and foster care
- Provide the educational programs that will strengthen area adoption and foster care nonprofits
- Find affordable ways for adoption to happen and lessen the financial burden to families
- Facilitate connections between organizations and the Virginia Department of Social Services
- Execute and annual conference to include all related agencies and Virginia’s Adoption Champion
- Offer continuous communication including emails, monthly newsletters, etc.
- Create community events with awareness and components
- Focus on general and strategic recruitment of families