DENVER (CBS4) –  For nearly 40 years, CBS4 has been raising money and awareness for youth living in foster care. It’s called A Day for Wednesday’s Child. It’s a celebration of the connections that can transform a child’s life.

“Connections are really relationships, is what we’re talking about, aren’t built by snapping our fingers right. We make this all happen by developing relationships one step and one bit at a time,” said Lauren Arnold, Executive Director of Raise the Future.

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Raise the Future helped move 299 young people out of foster care last year, by making connections for them with caring adults.

“We do that in a couple of different ways. Now the first thing we do is work with our kids and our youth to identify people who are already in their lives to see if we can deepen and strengthen those relationships, so it might be an auntie, an uncle, a coach, a former teacher, a neighbor. You know, really try to take those relationships and strengthen that and deepen that.”

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Raise the Future also employs several partners, including CBS, to introduce their youth to new adults that can become part of their lives. In the case of CBS, that is the weekly Wednesday’s Child segment that profiles children and teens who are available for adoption.

“Adoption is a wonderful thing that can happen for a youth, but we know that in the modern world relationships are fluid, in terms of what they’re called and what they look like on a piece of paper. So what we know at the core is that the relationships are really about heart, about soul, about having a person, and somebody who’s there no matter what. So those relationships can be mentorships, they can be ‘you’ve got somebody to call.’ They can be ‘you’re part of the family but there’s not a piece of paper behind it.’ And it can go to guardianship, it can go to adoption, there are so many different forms. But at the core they’re all the same, and they’re about that human connection, and that human commitment to a child,” Arnold explained.

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“You mention all these different types of relationships, why is a connection so important for a young person?” asked CBS4’s Britt Moreno.

“Coronavirus and the pandemic taught all of us the power and the need for human connection for all of us. And so, that’s 20-fold or 100-fold more important for a youth because connections, and adult connections in particular, are how youth define their sense of self, how they learn how to navigate the world, and how they have that safety net to launch, to take risks, and to grow and to have hope for the future. And so, connection is everything for our youth. It’s how they build and become the adults and the wonderful people that they can become,” Arnold replied.

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Once those connections are made, Raise the Future wraps those relationships in services to make sure they grow and strengthen. The organization offers classes in Trust-Based Relational Intervention, and in-home coaching. Day 4 Wednesday’s Child explores those connections by telling the stories of successful adoptions, guardianships, and mentorships, and the services that help build them.

“Going into the day, we always ask that people think of three things: champion, invite, invest. Become our champion, go out there and spread the word about this work, and about youth in foster care. Invite others to join the cause, share it on social media, invite others to watch on the day or to learn more about youth. And then obviously, this work doesn’t happen, unfortunately, without money, so being able to invest, invest your time, invest your dollars, that would be great,” Arnold said.

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Tune in to CBS4 on Wednesday, April 14th for Day 4 Wednesday’s Child. You can make a donation at www.raisefuture.org, text FUTURE to 41444, or call (303) 755-4756.

Libby Smith