Interview with Lisa Funaro, Executive Director, and Ashley Falandys, Specialized Recruitment Coordinator, MARE
Founded in 1957, MARE finds adoptive homes for children and teens waiting in foster care. The organization serves as a bridge between the state’s Department of Children & Families, contracted adoption agencies, and adults interested in adoption. Its focus is on children who have been in foster care the longest, including teens, children of color, sibling groups, those with disabilities, and LGBTQ youth.
Lisa has more than 40 years of experience in the adoption field. She began her career at MARE as an intern and then as a Recruitment Coordinator. She returned to MARE in 2006 in the capacity as Executive Director after holding leadership positions in other adoption agencies. She has focused her career on adoption services and has a deep commitment to supporting adoptive parents and families.
Ashley adopted her son with the help of MARE before joining the team. Using her background as an early intervention /developmental specialist, and her personal adoption experience, she creates personalized plans for children with disabilities.
The recent grant from TPC has helped MARE expand its services to one of the more challenging populations of children to place: those with physical, medical, developmental, and intellectual challenges. As a direct result of our funding dollars, Ashley’s position was expanded from part-time to full-time. She has been able to more than double the number of children receiving specialized recruitment services.
According to Ashley, those expanded services have already begun to make a difference, illustrated by two recent placement stories she shared with us. An adoptive family was recently identified for a 6-year-old boy who suffered a non-accidental brain injury at an early age. His physical and personal needs are great: he requires total care. Through MARE, he will be joining a family whose parents are both medical professionals, prepared to meet his needs.
The second placement success features a 16-year-old young man diagnosed with autism who wants to be placed in a permanent home. Since 2014, he has moved from one unsuccessful foster care home to another and is currently living in a residential home. MARE recently identified a person in a neighboring state who expressed interest in adopting him. His placement has been initiated, and it is anticipated that he will leave his home for a family in the very near future.
One of the many ways that MARE recruits potential adoptive families is through in-person events where prospective parents and children in foster care can meet in a relaxed, informal setting. Since the pandemic, they have been holding these events virtually. They are now looking forward to hosting their first in-person event on Sunday, October 17th at Jordan’s Furniture in Reading, Massachusetts. If you would like to learn more about this event or help to spread the word, please visit MARE’s website.