Assessing the Field of Post-Adoption Services: Family Needs, Program Models, and Evaluation Issues. Case Study Report. 5.6.1 Outreach

11/01/2002

State adoption managers and providers in the case-study states reported a variety of strategies by which they inform families about the availability of PAS. These included sending letters about the program to families receiving subsidies, disseminating printed materials, meeting with local or state government social services and other community organizations, and presenting the PAS program at pre-adoption parent training classes. In the two states in which the PAS program was open to all adoptive families, outreach was broadly targeted and did not include specific efforts to reach families who had adopted privately or from overseas. None of the adoption program managers expressed concern that increased publicity would lead to waiting lists for services.

Each of the states conducted extensive outreach to families that had adopted, or were in the process of adopting, from the child welfare system. Methods included announcements sent to all families receiving subsidies at the time of program implementation, program descriptions provided to families when they first received a subsidy check, and information inserted into the states adoption handbook. In several states, adoptive parents received materials about the PAS program when the adoption agreement was signed. Providers also reported presenting the PAS program in pre-adoption parent classes, either through PAS staff or parents who had used the services. They used these interactions with future adoptive parents to mitigate the sense of failure attached to seeking out help when it is needed. Hopefully, were planting seeds, said a provider in Texas. In Texas, regional providers disseminated materials about PAS at recruitment events.

PAS providers reported a broad range of initial outreach to families receiving subsidy and adoption professionals, but did not report sustained outreach initiatives.

PAS programs in several states produced a variety of printed materials (primarily brochures) to publicize their existence. These materials provided information on providers, types of services available, and how to contact a provider (e.g., through a toll-free telephone number for information and referral). In Texas, brochures were printed in English and Spanish. In several states, PAS providers supplemented state-printed materials with their own (e.g., brochures, flyers, newsletters, direct mailings, bookmarks, magnets). Regional directors in Massachusetts reported sending materials to schools, courts, churches, adoption agencies, and clinics.

Providers also met with community agencies to raise awareness about the PAS programs and to establish links to those agencies. A provider in Massachusetts reported that her agency still did the road show because of the high staff turnover at local social services offices. In Virginia, service providers were directed to establish advisory boards to provide input on the delivery of PAS. These boards, which typically met quarterly, included adoptive parents, local county staff, school staff, and other service agencies. In Georgia, outreach efforts varied by provider (each operating statewide); several reported disseminating information to schools, adoption professionals, and state staff.

Each PAS program also maintained statewide and/or regional toll-free numbers that families could call to learn about the program or to access services. PAS providers operating regionally within the state reported that they received calls directly from parents in their service area or via the central hotline. In Oregon, where there was a single central PAS provider, staff took calls from across the state, although staff members were assigned to a specific region for which they developed resources.

In spite of these extensive efforts, adoptive families across the five case-study states reported that they still needed more information about the types of services offered and how to access them. This was true even for parents who had accessed the states PAS program. Parents remarked on the lack of communication about available services. Services may be there, but parents dont hear about them. Several parents reported having learned new information about service availability and access during the case-study focus groups.

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