Our Genesis

What began as a documentary film to raise awareness about approximately 500,000 children in foster care, has evolved into what is now Half a Million Kids 501c3 (HMK).

Our Founder, Leah Stauffer, was seeing more commercials on pet adoption, rather than child adoption. After interviewing social workers, families, and kids for her documentary film, she was invited to a Match Party at Arnold’s Game Center in Oaks Pennsylvania.

Match Parties are built as a fun outing for kids and potential individuals and families to meet to see if they might be a match. The one she visited was for kids older than 13 years old. At the Match Party, there were 18 children, each with a social worker, and 10 families were scheduled to attend. When she arrived, only 5 of 10 families showed up...

ThE Match Party That Lit The Match

how many families do agencies need to reach in order to place one child into a loving home?

The range of answers from the social workers was anywhere from 10-20 families. Leah thought that since corporate and pharmaceutical companies can have exact numbers when it comes to reaching their customers rather than ranges, why are kids’ lives not viewed with the same precision?

If 10-20 families are needed to match a child with a new parent or family, then at least 180-360 individuals or families should have been at the Match Party. Some of the social workers shared their marketing budget to attract families and that was a strong indicator of the turn-out.

The seed of Phase 1 was planted. We need a ton more awareness and a huge recruitment effort for Match Parties or any form of matching to succeed. 

Find out More About Phase 1

Next at the Match Party, parents were given game tokens so that if they were interested in getting to know the kids they could go over and play with them.

Leah wondered about the kids who did not have any individuals or families approach them with interest, and were ultimately left to play alone with their social worker. How must they be feeling after the anticipation of coming in hopes of finding a family?

 It was clear they needed more individuals and families. The seed began to rapidly grow. 

At the end of the event, gift bags were given out to the kids. Upon receiving their gift, a short bio was read about them with things such as their likes and general nature before they took their seat.

Games, Gifts, and Big Goals

"Nasir is 14 and shy at first, he is really funny once you get to know him. He is helpful around the house. He loves cats and dogs and wants to be a boxer one day."

A few years later, Leah decided to attend another match party at another fun venue to see if the format and turn-out was similar.

At this match party, she recognized Nasir from the previous match party, two years earlier. This time his photo in the booklet he had a dress shirt and tie, clearly growing up.Her heart broke thinking of the resilience and emotional risk it took to keep hoping. Truly heartbreaking. Leah still wonders what happened to Nasir and how he's doing today. She hopes one day she can find out.

This match party, with a similar setup, had strikingly similar results.

After an emotional day, Leah reached out to her father to thank him for adopting her when she was a child so she was never in a situation similar to this. Her father said that the child match party “sounded like a slave auction,” and Leah said “that’s how it felt”.

 Leah also recognized that the host agency and social workers were doing the very best they could with the system and budget they had. They work tirelessly to find forever homes for these children.

Hence seed #2 was planted :
Social and caseworkers need more support.

Another Match party, Another Seed Planted

When she went home, Leah analyzed the annual report of the organization that hosted the Match Party, which showed that out of 158 children that year, 15 were placed, a 10% return. From media commercials, 16 out of 61 children were placed, a 26% return. So, why weren’t these organizations doing more media commercials that would have greater outcomes for these kids? 

These insights, many more experiences, subsequent extensive research and mostly divine intervention, led to the birth of the 3-Phase Plan.

From Parties to Plans

Learn More About the 3-Phase Plan