Assessing the Field of Post-Adoption Services: Family Needs, Program Models, and Evaluation Issues. Summary Report. 2.4.1 Public Agency-Supported Services


PAS may be provided directly by child welfare agencies or contracted out.

In some areas (e.g., California), the adoption program includes an appropriation for post-adoption services as part of the reimbursement to the public agency for the completion of the adoption. In other states (e.g., North Carolina), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) or Title IV-B Subpart 2 (Promoting Safe and Stable Families program [PSSF]) funds are provided to the public agency to underwrite post-adoption services activities. An apparent benefit of this approach is that a worker who knows the family and was involved in the original placement will provide the services in many cases. However, the worker might not still be with the agency when post-adoption services are needed, and he or she may not be a specialist in providing such services.

A second approach is to develop specialized post-adoption services units within the public agency to which cases can be referred. An apparent advantage of this approach is that these public PASS workers can collaborate closely with the adoption worker, have excellent access to the case history information, and have access to public agency resources (e.g., referral to intensive in-home services or temporary foster or group home care). Oregons Post-Adoption Family Therapy (PAFT) model and Californias Santa Clara County post-adoption services unit are examples of this model in action.

A third, and increasingly widely used, model is to develop interdisciplinary teams or provide training to other public and private agency personnel to improve the level of community response. These models typically involve contracting with service providers outside the public agency. El Paso County, Colorado, has developed more interdisciplinary support for adoptive families by engaging public community mental health programs and hiring a highly qualified adoption specialist, located in the DSS office, to serve as a single point of contact. In 2.5 years, only one of El Paso Countys 500 placements has disrupted before finalization, and only one completed adoption has not worked out after legalization (Berns, 2000).

The Arizona State Adoption Programs Post-Adoption Services Project began a 3-year agenda in 1992 to address the problems of special needs adoption placement (Morse and Lussier, 1995). Training programs for mental health professionals and adoptive parents, as well as crisis prevention services, were developed and offered to adoptive families. Pre- and post-assessments of adoptive families satisfaction with support services indicated a modest improvement in satisfaction, although a low response rate at post-test complicates the interpretation of the findings.

In 1991, the Rocky Mountain Adoption Exchange received federal demonstration grant funding for a 2-year project to develop a collaborative model of interdisciplinary teamwork for serving families who had adopted children with special needs (Naylor, 1993). Teams were formed in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and South Dakota. Mental health, social service, developmental disabilities/education professionals, and adoptive parents were incorporated into each team. A total of 168 families were served over the 2-year period.

Spencer (1999) describes what she considers to be an optimum approach to post-adoption services, involving comprehensive Post-Adoption Service Centers. The centers should be triad focused and equally address the long-term needs of all adopted children. The proposed centers would have enough service volume to support the delivery of quality services by trained staff. The centers would also provide training and technical assistance in remote areas of the state.

Alabamas Department of Human Resources (DHR) has developed an approach to post-adoption services that involves the establishment of a system of family resource centers for adoptive families (NACAC, 2000). The project was developed during 1999 by examining other states post-adoption models and programs and by surveying Alabama families who had adopted foster children. The focus of the Alabama program is twofold: family support and family education and empowerment. A request for proposal was issued to locate a licensed child-placing agency to operate a statewide resource center and to manage a statewide network of post-adoption support services.

Other states implementing this model include Oregon, where a post-adoption resource center provides information and referral, library resources, and parent and professional training, Minnesota, where a post-adoption resource center is run by NACAC and the Minnesota Adoption Resource Network, and Louisiana, where services have included case management and subcontracted centers but now focus on respite (Karl Ensign, personal communication, February 12, 2001).

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