PORT ST. LUCIE — Cupid’s arrow has found its mark in Okeechobee and the Treasure Coast with a match-making program that identifies prospective adoptive families with children waiting for homes.
Using predictive data models similar to dating aps, the Family-Match program has been finding adoptive placements for local children since 2018. And it’s met considerable success.
Over the course of the program’s lifetime in Okeechobee and the Treasure Coast, 117 children have been entered into the system. Of that number, 74 percent have been matched and/or placed, while 26 percent have finalized adoptions.
“These are tremendous numbers to realize in just four years, especially considering we’re navigating these adoptions around a pandemic,” said Christina Kaiser, community relations director for CCKids, the nonprofit that oversees foster care and adoptions in Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties.
Numbers in the last three months are particularly impressive because they outperform the rest of the state, she said.
“Of the 10 children matched and placed in the last quarter, 60 percent were adopted,” she said. Statewide, 49 percent of children matched and/or placed were adopted.
Family-Match is managed by the Selfless Love Foundation and used throughout 90 percent of the state’s network of community based care systems. The community-based care systems – or CBCs – oversee child-welfare services in their respective judicial circuits.
The program uses a compatibility assessment tool developed by the former lead researchers from eHarmony and have successfully decreased the time it takes to find adoptive homes for children.
It creates a statewide pool of available children and approved families, and that has made a big difference, Kaiser said.