|Parents and PAS coordinators generally agreed on the type of services needed.|
Respite care. Most coordinators/providers mentioned respite as being a major need. Many also felt that, in addition to payment for respite care providers, families needed group respite activities such as camps, trips, and fun days. Respite care was also mentioned most often as a major need of families, across all states visited. Many adoptive parents described a dearth of available respite providers and lack of respite providers qualified to deal with special needs children. Parents also expressed a need for more group activities that would provide adopted children with opportunities to interact with one another.
Information. Adoptive parents reported that they were unclear about what PAS services were available to them and needed more information about services that they could access. They wanted to be knowledgeable about services before crises developed.
Parent training. Several coordinators/providers said that parents needed more training about adoption issues before the adoption occurred. Adoptive parents also felt that training about adoption issues was a critical need. Although some parents mentioned that parent training currently was offered, they often had found that it did not meet their needs. Parents often stated that the training was offered too soon after adoption, before they had enough experience with the issues to understand the training content.
Professional training. Coordinators/providers and adoptive parents mentioned the need for professionals competent in adoption issues, especially in the educational and mental health areas. Adoptive parents repeatedly reported having trouble finding qualified therapists who were knowledgeable about adoption issues. Parents reported that their children were stigmatized by schools when it was discovered that they were adopted. They wanted staff training as well as advocacy to help them deal with schools on their childs behalf.
Mental health services. Another need coordinators/providers and adoptive parents often expressed was mental health services for adoptive families. Parents were concerned about finding a provider as well as being able to pay for the services when they did find a provider with whom they felt comfortable. They noted that although these services were funded through Medicaid, many mental health providers did not accept Medicaid or were not available through private insurance plans.
Child assessments and evaluations. Adoptive parents wanted more comprehensive assessments and evaluations conducted on their adoptive child when they were placed and before finalization. They also wanted to know more about the childs and birth parents background, and about potential physical and mental problems before adoption finalization. Parents mentioned needing assistance in interpreting the records.
Other needs mentioned by coordinators/providers included advocacy, residential treatment, case management, support groups, and assistance with adoption subsidies.
Adoptive parents were generally satisfied with the services available to them by their states PAS programs, but many felt that additional funding was needed. Parents in several states expressed strong satisfaction with how effectively and quickly program staff handled crises (e.g., suicidal behavior, hospitalizations, aggressive behavior), with receipt of appropriate information about adoption issues and referrals to adoption-competent therapists and other service providers. Many parents expressed satisfaction with respite options, but they also very clearly expressed a desire for more funding for those services.