Assessing the Field of Post-Adoption Services: Family Needs, Program Models, and Evaluation Issues. Case Study Report. 5.4 Eligibility


Across the case-study states, adoption program managers reported that eligibility for PAS was determined largely by adoption type and receipt of subsidy (i.e., presence of special needs). They all reported that their PAS program served families who adopted from the child welfare system in their state. If these families moved out of state, they retained the ability to access information and referral; however, several adoption program managers said that it was not feasible to provide other services due to geographic limitations. In several of the states, eligibility of families who adopted privately (domestic or international) or from another states child welfare system is limited. Exhibit 5-1 summarizes the eligibility for each state.

Exhibit 5-1.
Eligibility for State-Funded Post-Adoption Services and Supports
  Georgia Massachusetts Oregon Texas Virginia
Children adopted from state Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Children adopted from other states who now reside in state Limited access Yes Yes Limited access Yes
Children adopted through private adoptions Limited access Yes Limited access Limited access Yes

Adoption program managers in Virginia and Massachusetts reported that any adoptive family residing in the state was eligible for PAS. In Massachusetts, eligibility is extended to families in legalized guardianship arrangements. In Virginia, the state opened up PAS to all adoptive families as a way to prevent future foster care placements for children whose needs are not met.

In two of five states, adoptive families, regardless of adoption type, could access the full array of PAS services

The availability of sufficient funds to serve all adoptive families is a concern in these two states, although neither has needed to ration services according to adoption type. Service providers in Virginia are directed to prioritize services to special-needs children, children adopted from the state, and transracially adopted children. In Massachusetts, the adoption manager reported encountering some initial resistance to the idea of opening the program to all adoptive families. Many of the adoptive parents who had been engaged in the grassroots effort to develop PAS had adopted from the state and worried that resources would be spread too thin if all families were eligible.

Among the states responding to the ILSU interview, the majority reported offering services to all adoptive families. However, these services may be more limited than the PAS programs in the case-study states. Several states also reported limitations for certain services.(3)

Adoption program managers in the three states that did not extend full PAS to all adoptive families were interested in doing so but believed they did not have sufficient funding. Oregon and Georgia offered some services to all adoptive families while restricting provision of their higher cost services to families who had adopted from the state. Texas was more restrictive in limiting its services.

In states with limited access, families that adopted privately (domestic or international) were able to access information and referral, but not counseling, crisis intervention, or respite services.

In Oregon, ORPARC staff provided information and referral services to all families and allowed families who adopted privately to access the lending library for a fee and to attend parent training sessions on a space-available basis. Oregons adoption program manager indicated that if more funding became available, the first priority would be to expand the range of services offered to families adopting from the state, although it would be preferable to serve all families if possible. Families who adopted from other state systems are fully eligible for ORPARC services.

In Georgia, all adoptive families were able to access information and referral services, parent trainings, camp stays, and crisis intervention. However, respite (other than camp stays), attachment therapy, and tutoring were provided only for children adopted from the state and receiving adoption assistance. The state adoption program manager noted that, in practice, higher cost services such as crisis intervention were provided to any adoptive family if the child was identified by the child welfare system as being at risk of placement in foster care or in a residential treatment facility.

Texas restricted all services (except limited information and referral) to children adopted from its child welfare system. The state adoption program manager said that the priority was to assist children who were placed by the state child protective services system. Funding was insufficient to serve private or international adoptions or adoptions from other states. In addition, the legislation that enabled PAS funding did not extend to these adoptions.

PAS providers in all five states reported a strong interest in providing services to families before adoptions were finalized.

Virginia is the only one of the case-study states whose PAS program is open to families prior to adoption finalization, on the theory that these families are equally at risk of reentry into the system. In other states, providers expressed a desire to serve families prior to the finalization of the adoption. There is a feeling of being somewhat limited in not being able to serve families post-placement, pre-finalization, noted a PAS coordinator. Regional PAS providers in Massachusetts asserted that they had the expertise and capacity to help at-risk families prior to finalization of their adoptions, noting that these families experienced some of the same problems as adoptive families.

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