Campus News

ASK Named Parent Group of the Year

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 1, 2010) – The journey through foster care and adoption can be challenging, with few directions to follow.

University of Kentucky's Adoption Support for Kentucky (ASK) has been supporting parents on the road to adoption for almost eight years through mentoring, education and advocacy.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ Department for Community Based Services took notice, nominating the UK-based association for this year's North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) Parent Group of the Year award.

All questions aside, ASK won.

"Whether at the initial stage of adoption interest, or far past finalization, ASK has created an all-inclusive setting to fortify families who have generously opened their homes to deserving children,” Adoption Services Branch Manager Mike Grimes wrote in the nomination letter. “The services provided by ASK have proven invaluable to our Special Needs Adoption program and adoptive families who have learned to lean on their support."

ASK provides parent-led support groups for adoptive parents and for those considering adoption statewide, working closely with Health and Family Services and its various programming.

"Our program is led by parents, but not administered by them," said ASK Director Carrie Saunders, who grew up in Kentucky and has three adopted siblings. "Parents have enough going on raising their children. The least we can do is provide support."

In addition to parental support groups, ASK provides child care for participants during weekly meetings. "It can be really difficult to find care for some of these kids," said Saunders. "Many parents won't leave them with anyone, and this service removes the barrier."

ASK currently conducts almost 400 separate support groups across the state and boasts a current membership of almost 4,000. In 2002, when Saunders created the program, there were 980 participants.

"Carrie built the program from the ground up," said Training Resource Center Director Missy Segress. "The NACAC award recognizes the time, effort and dedication that she and parents around the state have given to the project."

ASK provides regular training sessions, a lending library, educational information on policy and procedures, as well as one-on-one support to parents around the Commonwealth. 

"Many states stop their involvement with parents after adoption," said Saunders. "But the work doesn’t end there. Children and families still need a hand."

According to a 2007 survey of ASK participants by UK's College of Social Work, 68 percent of parents said that ASK stabilized their families, and 38 percent said that ASK programs helped preserve an adoption that was headed for termination.

"When you look at it on paper, it's amazing to see what our programs are doing," said Saunders. "These are parents who have opened their homes and opened their hearts to the children of the state."

Founded in 1974 by adoptive parents, the NACAC is an organization committed to meeting the needs of waiting children in the United States and Canada and the families who adopt them, focusing particularly on children in foster care and those with special needs.

ASK will receive the award at the NACAC’s annual conference on August 7 in Hartford, Conn.

"This is a shared honor for our staff, the families we assist and the tremendous parent liaisons who never fail to support the parents who need them,” said Saunders. “Our greatest achievement is that we can help instill confidence and a sense of community among the adoptive and preadoptive families we work with."

With all of the recent ASK success, Saunders is not sitting idly. "I hope to eventually launch support groups for children as well," she said. "There's still a lot that needs to be done for the adopted children of Kentucky."

Find out more about ASK online at