Assessing the Field of Post-Adoption Services: Family Needs, Program Models, and Evaluation Issues. Summary Report. 6.1.2 Demand for PAS

11/01/2002

Which adoptive families are most likely to want PAS?

What we know: Data on families seeking PAS in New England, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Oregon indicate that PAS programs serve a variety of adoptive families, including those formed by guardianship, adoptions from public child welfare agencies, and private and international adoptions; and many have more than one adopted child. Median age of the focus child at the time of case opening was noted between 10 and 11 in two studies, and children are roughly evenly divided by gender. Families often perceived their needs to be acute at the time that services were sought: 21 percent of families in Massachusetts reported a severe or extreme risk to the adoption. Behavioral problems were reported by more than half of families in both Illinois and Oregon. In Illinois, 55 percent of children served have one or more diagnosed disability, and 27 percent had been placed out of the home for some time since adoption (Gibbs, Barth, and Lenerz, 2000; Hudson et al., 2002; Fine, 2000; Howard and Smith, 2001). In the absence of population-based data on adoptive families, we cannot specify the ways in which families seeking services differ from other adoptive families.

Moving forward: Most PAS programs report collecting data on the children and families they serve. If this information were compiled in a way that captured comparable data where possible, a picture might emerge. Development of a minimum program data set would facilitate both the data collection start-up and data consistency. Questions of particular relevance to PAS program planning include:

  • How do the strengths and needs of guardianship families differ from those of adoptive families?
  • What are the most useful measures of child characteristics, adoption history, child well-being, child behavior, and family functioning with which to describe the families who seek out PAS?
  • Which adoptive families have been finding needed services within the community, and which need services that are specifically tailored to adoptive families?

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