Saint Leo Helps Create ‘Forever Families’

November 20, 2014

National Adoption Day is observed the Saturday before Thanksgiving and falls on November 22 this year. To aid those who want to create families, Saint Leo University offers full-time employees, who work at least 30 hours a week, an adoption benefit.

Saint Leo’s Adoption Assistance Program offers reimbursement of $5,000 per adoption for up to two adoptions per family for qualified expenses. Adopting a child can cost from zero to more than $40,000, depending on the situation.

A staff member brought the idea of a creating an adoption benefit to the university, and Dr. Arthur F. Kirk, Jr., president of the university, was inspired to assist families who want to adopt. The benefit went into effect in 2010 and is offered to employees who work at University Campus, for the Center for Online Learning, and at Saint Leo’s more than 40 education centers and offices in seven states. While the monetary benefit helps with adoption fees, employees and their families say what really makes the difference is putting the university’s core values into effect – especially the value of responsible stewardship: “Our Creator blesses us with an abundance of resources. We foster a spirit of service to employ our resources for university and community development.”

David Ososkie, associate director of student and faculty operations for the Center for Online Learning, and his wife Janis had the opportunity to use the benefit for two of the three children they adopted. They are parents to Evan, 8; Hope, 7; and Joseph, 6. Hope and Joseph are biological siblings and were adopted at the same time in 2012. “It was a great, awesome opportunity to have the funds,” Janis Ososkie said of the university’s adoption benefit.

One day, every year, on National Adoption Day, the lives of more than 4,500 children are changed as courts finalize adoptions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to the National Adoption Day organization. Almost 50,000 adoptions have been finalized on National Adoption Day since its creation in 2000.

To take advantage of the adoption benefit, a Saint Leo employee contacts the Human Resources Department for an adoption reimbursement form, said Terry Kluender, director of Human Resources. Applications must be received within six months of the adoption finalization.

While Saint Leo does not provide time off for employees using the adoption benefit, employees who are expanding their family via birth or adoption may qualify for the Family Medical Leave Act (up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave by federal law).

Saint Leo University helps create “forever families” and employees are encouraged to explore the Adoption Assistance Program.