Assessing the Field of Post-Adoption Services: Family Needs, Program Models, and Evaluation Issues. Summary Report. 6.2.1 Program Models


What program models are being used to provide PAS?

What we know: In recent years, states have established new statewide PAS programs and expanded existing smaller scale projects. Most of these programs go beyond provision of a clearly defined intervention to families with similar needs, instead offering an array of interventions with different objectives and activities to serve a broad range of adoptive families. PAS programs in the five case-study states are similar in three fundamental ways. First, the PAS programs are contracted out rather than provided by state child welfare staff, to control costs and increase administrative flexibility. Second, these programs offer services statewide, using various organizational structures. Finally, the programs share goals of keeping adoptive families together and creating a consumer-driven program.

These states did not report drawing on proven models or documented best practices to develop their PAS programs. Instead, they relied primarily on related experience and advocates input. Only one state reported using a publication about post-adoption services (Spaulding for Children, 1996) to help design their PAS program.

Better understanding of mix of subsidies, agency contracts, or private providers to be used for post-adoption services is certainly feasible. The relationship between this payment strategy and program outcomes, however, will be far more difficult to test, until we have methods to gauge the effectiveness of the purchased services.

Moving forward: The experience of the five states participating in the case studies is not sufficient to provide guidance to others considering developing or expanding programs. The ILSU interviews provide limited information about service availability, but lack detail and do not differentiate time-limited services provided by child welfare agencies from PAS programs. As more states consider establishing PAS programs, the availability of well-documented and evaluated program models will be useful in garnering support for funding and implementation. Specific questions include the following:

  • What has been the experience of states that provide PAS directly, rather than contracting them out?
  • How do state program leaders assess the relative advantages and disadvantages of various funding streams that may be used to support PAS?
  • What is the relationship between PAS programs and services provided by child welfare agencies during the pre-finalization and immediate post-finalization period?
  • What resources would state adoption managers find most useful in helping them to develop new PAS programs or refine existing ones?
  • How have states dealt with the challenge of providing services to families in rural areas?

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