Amara envisions a just and equitable world where all children, youth, adults and communities can grow and thrive.
Since 1921, Amara has been devoted to meeting the needs of children and families in the Puget Sound region. Amara began as the Medina Baby Home — an orphanage — and over the decades has evolved as an innovative organization that seeks to fill the gaps in child welfare by taking risks and breaking down systemic barriers to provide respectful, affirming care and support to all children in foster care, adoptees, and families.
In the 1940s, 50s, and 60s we pioneered efforts to find foster families for sibling groups and older children. In the 1970s, we partnered with the Department of Health and Seattle Public Schools to provide comprehensive school-based services to pregnant teens and teen mothers and we continue to partner with child welfare organizations to bring about child-centered court reform throughout Washington State.
We were one of the first organizations in the country to coordinate transracial adoptions (placing a child of one race or ethnicity with adoptive parents of another race or ethnicity) and prioritize training and support for foster parents and adoptive parents to nurture a child’s cultural and racial identity different from their own.
We are also one of the first child welfare organizations in the country to work with LGBTQ couples and individuals, and single parents. We are honored to have been recognized by the Human Rights Campaign’s All Children – All Families program every year since 2013. In 2019, we received their highest tier of recognition: Innovative Inclusion. All Children – All Families promotes LGBTQ-inclusive policies and affirming practices among child welfare agencies. We are proud to be considered among HRC’s agencies that lead the field with innovative approaches to inclusion!
In 2014, we opened our first Emergency Sanctuary, in Seattle, providing a temporary home to kids, “a safe landing”, who were recently removed from their own home. In 2016, Amara launched our Post-Adoption Program to support adoptees, adoptive and first families; and opened our Pierce County office, including an Emergency Sanctuary in Tacoma.
And in 2018, we purchased 29 acres of land in Pierce County with a vision to launch a new community-based project designed to co-locate programs and services for kids and families impacted by or at risk of entering foster care. The vision for the project is based on recommendations from an extensive community engagement process led by people most impacted by foster care and adoption, and people of color.
In 2021 and beyond, Amara will continue to expand our programs and services that strengthen the wellbeing of children: community, equity, family, and connection. Through growing programs to support kinship care, family reunification, and nurturing continued connection to birth families and community, Amara continues to center innovative practices that influence and shape the field through informed practice and policy influence to ensure that all children, adults and families have what they need to grow and thrive.