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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

HARAMBEE: SERVICES TO CHILDREN AND FAMILIES - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

HARAMBEE: SERVICES TO CHILDREN AND FAMILIES was a nonprofit private adoption agency for AFRICAN AMERICAN children in Cleveland. It was founded in 1979 as Harambee: Services to Black Families by the local chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers in cooperation with local citizens who were alarmed by the dearth of social services available to African American children in Cleveland. Its name, Harambee, is Swahili for "pulling together." When it opened on 15 Dec. 1979 on East 55th Street, Harambee had as its primary focus finding adoptive African American parents for African American children and assisting the children and their new families through the adoption process. It offered training for the parents and, in some cases, legal assistance and subsidies. Unlike many other adoption agencies, it also recruited single parents. In 1983, the organization received its full adoption and placement license, and later that year signed a contract for adoption services with the CUYAHOGA COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES. Within four years, approximately 60 children had been placed in adoptive homes. In 1987, Harambee won the Isaiah Award for outstanding work in human relations.

Since its inception, Harambee focused on finding permanent homes for the growing number of minority and special-needs children in the custody of public and private agencies. Approaching the adoption process holistically, Harambee offered pre-adoption instruction in parenting issues, cultural diversity, and the adoption process for prospective parents, and post-adoption services for adoptive families, including counseling and referrals to other resources, such as therapy. The organization worked to bring families together by connecting potential adoptive parents, who were recruited at churches, fairs, and social events, with children awaiting adoption not only in the Cleveland area but also nationally. While the organization successfully placed about 25 children in adoptive homes in Ohio each year, it depended heavily on public funding and donations to carry out its work.

Harambee hosted an annual "Evening of Enchantment" benefit to honor local individuals and businesses who had contributed to its work. The offices of Harambee were located at 11811 Shaker Blvd.

Last Modified: 23 Aug 2009 01:06:59 PM

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