Founded in 2001, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. that works to raise awareness about the needs of children without families and to remove policy barriers that hinder children from knowing the love and support a family provides.
CCAI is unique in that each of its programs bring together policy-makers and individuals with direct foster care of adoption experience. CCAI has found that when policy-makers hear the direct experiences of those affected by orphan and child welfare systems, they become engaged in this issue and work to bring about legislative improvements in an effort to ensure each child has its right to a family realized.
Additionally, CCAI is a part of the National Adoption Day coalition that works every year during the month of November to raise awareness of the 100,000 children in the U.S. foster care system waiting for permanent and loving families. Last year, approximately 4,500 children and youth were adopted into loving families on National Adoption Day.
CCAI Interim Executive Director Becky Weichhand spoke about the importance of the institute's involvement with the New Orleans Saints.
"CCAI is a member organization of the National Adoption Day Coalition, so as a member of the coalition, our role is to help raise awareness about the 400,000 children in foster care and specifically the 102,000 children that are in foster care that are available for adoption," Weichhand said. "So we are delighted that the Saints are honoring us as a charity this evening, because it helps us raise awareness with the fans and the people of Louisiana who may not be aware of children who are in foster care or the work that we're doing to educate members of Congress to help them understand how they can use their influence and their voice to make sure that children are in families."
Weichhand also spoke about the institutes presence in New Orleans, and in the greater state of Louisiana.
"We work to engage members of Congress in every state and in every district," Weichhand said. "What's unique about CCAI's engagement here in New Orleans and with the Saints is that we were honored to be able to give an award to Rita Benson LeBlanc for her advocacy on adoption issues. The way she uses the influence of the Saints and the platform that you have here to raise awareness about adoption and children needing families is wonderful. We are so honored that this is the fifth year that we are able to come down here and be a part of game day and raise awareness about national adoption day."