Audette at the Lund Family Center.

Audette and Project Family Honored as National Angel in Adoption

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Thursday September 19, 2013

The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) will honor Project Family as an Angel in Adoption™ at an awards ceremony and gala in early October in Washington D.C.

Project Family is a public-private partnership between the Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF) and Lund Family Center, Vermont’s largest and oldest nonprofit adoption agency. Working together, Lund and DCF find adoptive parents for Vermont children in need of family permanency.  Project Family is headed by South Burlington resident Wanda Audette from Lund and Diane Dexter from DCF. Both organizations have additional staff members working on Project Family adoptions.  

Project Family was formed in 2000 to address the two main challenges facing the foster care system in Vermont – finding homes for the 40-60 children who are waiting every day in foster homes for a forever family and reducing the time children spend in foster care before they are adopted. The two agencies each brought something unique to the partnership. Lund brought its reputation for excellence in supporting adoptive families; its openness to all family configurations regardless of age, marital status or sexual orientation; and its passion for building families through adoption. DCF brought its caseload of children, extensive experience working with and supporting children who have experienced abuse and neglect, and passion for the children and families. Since its inception Project Family has had a dramatic effect on the foster care system in Vermont.   The average time for a child between custody and adoption is now 23.8 months compared to over 4 years before 2000.  Of the adoptions in 2013, 64% of them were finalized in under 24 months.  Many more families are being created and being created in much less time since the start of Project Family.

From July 2012 to June 2013, 170 children living in out-of-home placements were adopted into families through Project Family and 558 individuals received comprehensive lifelong post-permanence services. Lund and DCF work tirelessly to ensure that every child has a forever family and this Angel in Adoption Award is testament to that work.  Project Family was nominated as an Angel in Adoption™ by Congressman Peter Welch’s office. 

“Receiving the Angel in Adoption Award is a wonderful honor,” says Wanda Audette. “For me personally it reinforces that others agree with the importance that every child deserves a forever family, one that provides them with an unconditional relationship. We at Project Family believe that there are no unadoptable children, only unfound homes and we are committed to making sure that every child has a family, because having a family is a right for every child, not a privilege.” The Angel in Adoption™ program is CCAI’s signature public awareness campaign and provides an opportunity for all members of the U.S. Congress to honor the good work of their constituents who have enriched the lives of foster children and orphans in the United States and abroad.  Each year, more than 140 Angels are honored through the Angel in Adoption™ program. 
This is the second time that Lund’s staff members or programs have won the Angel in Adoption™ award.  Wanda Audette won in 2002 and Diane Dexter won the award in 2004. DCF Deputy Commission Cindy Walcott has also won the Angel in Adoption award.

“It’s really wonderful to win this award again.   If you had told me 20 years ago that we would be where we are now, I wouldn’t have believed you.  It’s an amazing feat of collaboration. The DCF family service social workers work with the DCF Project Family staff and the Lund Project Family staff to achieve the highest degree of permanence and well-being for every child.   The most important thing is the continuity of care providers in children’s lives,” says Diane Dexter, Adoption Chief at DCF. 

For over 120 years, Lund has been helping families to break the cycles of poverty, addiction and abuse.  Lund creates hope, opportunity and family for Vermonters through community and residential treatment for mental health and substance abuse, education, family support, life-skills and job training and early childhood education.  Lund is also Vermont’s oldest adoption agency.
If you would like more information, please contact Charlotte Blend at 802 861-2580 or