Kate Pogany, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Recruitment Specialist
One caring adult can make all the difference in the world to a child in search of a “Forever Home.” Kate Pogany believes that and loves working on behalf of each child. Working in the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids (WWK) program at Spaulding for Children, she helps find the caring people and families who can give a waiting child permanence.
Ms. Pogany is a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Recruitment Specialist at Spaulding. One of two such positions sponsored and supported financially by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, the WWK program helps find permanent homes for children with special needs and older children awaiting adoption.
“The missions of Spaulding and Wendy’s Wonderful Kids are very much aligned,” Ms. Pogany said. “Both were founded with the belief that there are no ‘unadoptable’ children. And both do all they can to make that a reality.”
What makes the work difficult is the sheer number of children awaiting families – about 300 in Michigan who currently are without an identified family, she said.
The WWK program follows a “child-focused recruitment” model. In the practice, the individual needs, specific circumstances and unique history of each child awaiting adoption provide the foundation for searching for the appropriate families – particularly for children most at risk of aging out of care.
The WWK program also helps Ms. Pogany and her colleague to focus less on the administrative tasks and to do what she does best: serve in the interests of a child by interacting on their behalf directly with individuals, families and children.
“Often, caseworkers are overloaded and overworked,” Ms. Pogany said. “Each person in the field has many obligations they have to meet. While we still complete reports and fill out paperwork, we can focus is on the child and the recruitment of an adoptive family. Even with so many children awaiting adoption, it’s just a matter of finding the right person and family.”
Ms. Pogany knows what to look for: loving, kind, thoughtful and determined people with a sense of humor. Adoptive parents also need flexibility to adapt to new circumstances and a desire to learn new ways of approaching parenting.
“We are searching to interview the right family,” Ms. Pogany said. “We want to help them see that they would not be alone in raising an adopted child. We are there to help them with resources, information, and the other tools they need, but also in that we are their partner in helping them when there’s a problem, as kids often experience as they go through their teen years.”
Finding the right person can be a most difficult assignment. Many prospective adoptive parents are stretched to the limit economically, taking care of aging parents and other family members, and may not see how they can introduce a new child to their home.
“Even if making the ultimate commitment – becoming a foster or adoptive parent – is outside your skill-set, you can still be in a position to make an enormous impact in the development and future life of a child by being a mentor or adult role model,” Ms. Pogany said.
Ms. Pogany recently celebrated her sixth anniversary at Spaulding for Children. She began her professional career in social work, then took a position in an unrelated field. After completing training as a volunteer in the Michigan CASA program – Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children – she was appointed to serve as the advocate charged with representing the interests of a 7-year-old child who was a permanent ward of the state of Michigan.
Within a year of beginning her work as a CASA volunteer, Ms. Pogany decided to return to the field of social work. Today, through her work and example, she is making all the difference for children and the world.