The Center for Advanced Practice at Adoption Rhode Island is a knowledge hub for health, education, and child-welfare professionals with the goal to bring research based solutions to address the complex needs of children impacted by trauma. With a special focus on foster and adopted children, vulnerable youth and families.

The Center for Advanced Practice, a new division of the organization, is grounded in our mission to create safety, belonging, and permanency for adopted and foster children, vulnerable youth, and families through compassionate services, advocacy and education.

Since our founding ARI has led the field in delivering compassionate services to achieve the best lifelong outcomes for children, teens and families impacted by foster care and adoption.

Adoption Rhode Island is a recognized leader in effectively treating a child’s trauma today to prevent poor health and well-being outcomes as adults.

Through the Center for Advanced Practice we have expanded our commitment to improving the lives of abused, neglected and traumatized children by exponentially increasing our impact and changing the course of thousands more children’s lives.

The deeply experienced team at ARI has unmatched expertise in the specialized care of children healing from trauma that comes from separation, abuse and neglect. At the core of our work is dedication to finding permanency for children and to promoting their well-being.

As a recognized resource for training and consultation to professionals and practitioners, families and caregivers, and policy-makers, we continuously seek opportunities for partnership and collaboration to expand our impact and respond to current and emerging trends and needs.

We know from experience that many families seeking support for their foster or adoptive children find it nearly impossible to find professionals to help their child – from teachers to child welfare workers, clinicians to early child specialists – who have an adoption and permanency focus, or who use a trauma informed approach.

We know that child welfare workers, teachers, social workers, health care providers, families and others—even policymakers—are urgently asking for the tools to understand the impact of trauma and better serve all of these children.

Yet, curriculum in college and university programs for social work, education, law, health, and other professional disciplines is lacking in coursework specific to their unique needs. Especially the needs of children, youth, and families impacted by foster care and adoption.

And there are huge gaps between advancements made in the knowledge that can improve safety, well-being and permanency for trauma-impacted children, and how those resources are made available, accessible, understandable, and implementable to the people who care deeply about these children’s futures.

The Center for Advanced Practice at Adoption Rhode Island:

  • Harnesses the enormous amount of research that already exists about the best and most effective ways to help trauma-impacted children and makes it easily accessible for the professionals, policy-makers and workforce who can make the most difference to find and use it.
  • Promotes new research to expand knowledge, be a catalyst for innovation, and influence policy and practice.
  • Translates what is already proven to work, and new evidence of promising strategies, into practice in order to build the capacity of the front-line workforce caring for the most vulnerable children. 
  • Makes certain that in every situation where a child who has been impacted by trauma interacts with a caregiving adult, they are heard and their special needs understood.

Partnerships and Advisors

In planning for the establishment of the Center for Advanced Practice, ARI’s CEO and other key leadership staff sought out advice, and explored the need and feasibility for this initiative with academic, child welfare, mental and behavioral health, education and policy leaders nationally and in Rhode Island, and across disciplines charged with caring for the well-being of children.

Advisory Council for The Center for Advanced Practice:

Dr. Mikaila Mariel Lemonik Arthur, Rhode Island College, Sociology

Dr. Wendy Becker, Rhode Island College, Social Work

Dr. Ramona Burton, Federal Government, GAO, Child Welfare

Dr. Colleen Caron, Brown University, Epidemiology

Dr. Christian Connell, Pennsylvania State University, Human Development and Family Studies, Child Maltreatment Solutions Network

Maureen Flately, Government Relations and Strategic Consultant, Child Welfare

Dr. Harold Grotevant, University of Massachusetts, Rudd Adoption Institute, Psychology

Susan Grundberg, Child Welfare Consultant, Organization and System Transformation

Elizabeth Lowenhaupt, MD, FAAP, Brown University, Psychiatry

Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao, Harvard University, Human Development and Consulting Psychology

Dr. Shanna Pearson, University of Rhode Island, Social Science Institute for Research, Education and Policy

Dr. Wendy Plante, Brown University, Psychology

Adoption Rhode Island – Center For Advanced Practice Staff:

Darlene Allen, MS,  (Chief Executive Officer) dallen@adoptionri.org

Emily Lyon, LICSW (Chief Operating Officer) elyon@adoptionri.org

Kat Tavares, LCSW (Program Development) ktavares@adoptionri.org

Wendy Sousa, LICSW (Child and Family Services) wsousa@adoptionri.org

Jennifer Foster (Development and Community Relations) jfoster@adoptionri.org

More About Adoption Rhode Island at 

A look back: Our History

Adoption Rhode Island was first known as Ocean State Adoption Resource Exchange (OSARE) when we were founded in the early 1980’s. Our name changed to Adoption Rhode Island in 1997, but our original life-changing mission to help abused and neglected children in state care to find permanency continued.

From day one to the present, we have dedicated every day to improving the lives of children who have been hurt.

Over more than 35 years, ARI has experienced tremendous growth, demonstrated our impact, and proven our leadership in caring for the most vulnerable children; leading to a depth and breadth of new programming and to increasing the number of children, teens, and families served every year.

Even as ARI has grown to be an award winning organization, and we have expanded in response to changing needs, we remain driven by the belief that children deserve a place to call home and a family to be there during the best and worst of times, and that families need support. We believe that every child deserves opportunities to flourish to adulthood, and no child should grow up in foster care to age out alone in the world.