Assessing the Field of Post-Adoption Services: Family Needs, Program Models, and Evaluation Issues. Case Study Report. 5.1 History


Formal PAS programs were instituted in the 1990s in all five case-study states, Texas being the first. Adoption program managers reported that the development of PAS resulted from a combination of factors, including adoptive parent advocacy movements, state legislative action, and state executive initiative. In Massachusetts and Texas, advocacy by adoptive parents built support for PAS, although in very different ways, as described below. In Oregon, support for PAS was created through a combination of advocacy and activism from both outside and within state government. In Virginia and Georgia, PAS development largely was sparked from within state government.

In Massachusetts, adoptive parents, many of whom were professionals in the child and family services field, formed the Southeastern Massachusetts Adoption Services Coalition in the mid-1990s. The group eventually developed into the statewide Massachusetts Coalition for Adoption. These coalitions engaged the state legislature in meetings and conducted other activities to raise awareness about the needs of adoptive families. The state adoption program manager noted that these parents had felt that they needed resources outside of adoption subsidies, including access to adoption-competent professionals. He also recognized that the influence of advocates had been critical to the legislatures funding of PAS: It was only when private agencies, adoption support groups, and individual adoptive parents joined with the Department [of Social Services] that the legislature appropriated the money. When the state legislature agreed to fund PAS, the state developed a request for proposals (RFP) based on input from advocates and the legislature. Advocates also assisted in the review of applications. In 1997 the state selected Children and Family Services, Inc. as the lead provider of a regional network of providers, establishing the Adoption Crossroads program.

In Texas the states decision to provide formal PAS was prompted by a class-action lawsuit in the 1980s by adoptive parents against the state for lack of services. Although the state prevailed in the lawsuit, publicity from the case increased awareness of adoptive family needs, prompting the state legislature to enact legislation to enable PAS funding. The state began funding PAS providers statewide in the early 1990s.

Parent, advocates, state legislatures, state agencies, and needs assessments influenced the development of PAS in the case-study states.

The establishment of a PAS program in Oregon resulted from a combination of adoptive parent and professional advocacy, state executive and legislative interest, state needs assessments, and federal funding availability. Adoptive parents and adoption professionals organized around concerns with the ongoing needs of adopted children who had been exposed to methamphetamines and other drugs before birth and with the need for more disclosure about the childs history at the time of adoption. A legislative task force on adoption issues met in 1997 and gave more formal voice to these issues. In addition, the state conducted several needs assessments. As the state achieved dramatic increases in the number of adoptions, state officials became aware of the potential challenges faced by adoptive families. The state adoption program manager reported that, as a result of all of these influences, the state was poised to use Promoting Safe and Stable Families program (Title IV-B, Subpart 2) funds for PAS. Oregon developed an RFP for PAS and selected Northwest Resource Associates to operate the Oregon Post Adoption Resource Center in late 1998. ORPARC began operations in 1999.

In the mid-1990s, Virginia adoption officials collaborated under a grant with their counterparts in other states to discuss needs and strategies for post-adoption supports and services. The National Consortium for Post Legal Adoption Services was sponsored by an Adoption Opportunities grant under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Their publication, Adoption Support and Preservation Services: A Public Interest, was issued in March 1996. The adoption program manager noted that her participation in the consortium effort had directly influenced the states decision to create a PAS program and the consideration of program design options. As in Oregon, Virginia chose to establish the program using Title IV-B, Subpart 2 funds. The state released an RFP for the Adoptive Family Preservation program and in 1999 selected United Methodist Family Services of Virginia as the lead provider of a regional network of providers.

In 1997, based on recommendations from a legislative study committee on adoption and foster care, Georgias Gov. Zell Miller established the Office of Adoption as an entity separate from the Department of Family and Children Services, with its own budget and staff. The Office of Adoption is responsible for the administration and management of the adoption program, while adoption services (not post-adoption services) are provided through the county Departments of Family and Children Services. Oversight and authority for child welfare remain with the Department of Family and Children Services. The Office of Adoption developed the PAS program and oversees the contracts under the program.

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