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Assessing the Field of Post-Adoption Services: Family Needs, Program Models, and Evaluation Issues

The child welfare field has spent a great deal of time during the last several years focusing on increasing the number of children adopted from the public child welfare system. The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) promoted adoption from the federal level, including providing monetary incentives for states to increase the number of children adopted. Numerous state initiatives, in some cases predating ASFA, have marshaled state and local resources to promote adoption. These efforts have led to a dramatic increase in adoptions nationally.

This emphasis on adoption has largely centered on finalizing adoptions of children who were already in the adoption pipeline, and to a lesser extent on identifying new potential adoptive families for children expected to need adoptive placements. In particular, efforts are being made to recruit families willing to adopt older children and those with special needs including emotional and/or behavioral disturbances. Considerably less attention has been spent considering the ongoing needs of children and families once adoptions are finalized.

Through several analytical methods, this project has explored the service needs of families following the adoption of a child from the public child welfare system and has assessed the state of the art in the current array of post adoption services. The purpose of the project was to bring together what we know about post adoption services from existing research, what we can know with the analysis of national and/or multi-state data and visits to existing programs, and to suggest an agenda for future federal research on these issues, particularly as they arise from the Adoption and Safe Families Act.

The following reports are available from this project:

  • Summary Report, November 2002.
    The Summary Report presents a brief description of each study component, with a concluding discussion of the current status of post-adoption services and strategies to move the field forward. The study components include a literature review; case studies of five post-adoption service programs; an assessment of evaluation issues; and secondary analysis of administrative data from two states, focusing on use of adoption subsidies and the disruption, displacement and dissolution of adoptions. Prepared by Deborah Gibbs, Kristin Siebenaler, and Richard Barth.
  • Evaluation Issues Report, November 2002.
    The Evaluation Issues report describes the types of evaluations that have been conducted regarding post-adoption services programs, discusses factors that may either facilitate or constrain the conduct of evaluations in this area, and suggests potential future directions in evaluating post adoption services.
  • Analysis of Secondary Data Report, November 2002.
    The analysis of secondary data explored whether administrative data could be used to better understand the use of adoption subsidies for purchase of services and to describe the disruption, dissolution, and displacement of adoptions. Analyses from two states, California and North Carolina, demonstrate what could be done in other states with similar data and suggest how modifications to administrative data systems could enhance our understanding of adoptions.
  • Case Study Report, November 2002.
    The Case Study component of the study used interviews with state adoption program managers and post adoption services coordinators/providers as well as focus groups with adoptive parents. Site visits to programs in five states  Georgia, Massachusetts, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia  included well-regarded programs that varied in structure and services offered. The case study was designed to address the following research questions:
    • What are the service needs of families following adoption of a child from the public child welfare system?
    • What are the characteristics of existing post-adoption services programs?
    • How are post-adoption services programs monitoring and assessing their effectiveness?
  • Literature Review (April 2001)


Printed Copies of Reports

To obtain a printed copy of a report, send or fax the title and your mailing information to:

Human Services Policy, Room 404E
Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20201

Fax: (202) 690-6562

You may also print the printer friendly, PDF version from each reports main page.