Assessing the Field of Post-Adoption Services: Family Needs, Program Models, and Evaluation Issues. Evaluation Issues. 2.2.3 Evaluations of Comprehensive Post-Adoption Service Programs


Several PAS programs have endeavored to evaluate the program as a whole, in place of or in addition to evaluation of specific PAS. Two more formal evaluations (presented in the literature review) include (1) the Iowa PARTNERS project from the early 1990s that provided sustained adoption counseling, intensive services, and support groups; and (2) the Casey Family Services project, in operation since 1992, that provides case advocacy; family, child, and group counseling; parent education; and support groups to families in New England.

Evaluations of comprehensive PAS programs tend to follow the pattern of evaluations of counseling and crisis intervention by compiling data on child and family characteristics, clinical assessments, risks to adoption, service usage, client satisfaction, and case outcomes. Evaluation methods are also similar and include clinical assessments, case records, and parent feedback forms. The Casey Family Services evaluation also examined case outcomes by assessing parental feelings about their child's progress at case closing using focus groups. Exhibit 2-11 summarizes key features of the evaluation.

Exhibit 2-11.
Evaluations of Comprehensive PAS Programs
Program Measures Data Sources
Post-Adoption Resources for Training, Networking, and Evaluation Services (PARTNERS), Iowa
  • Characteristics of families and children served
  • Services delivered
  • Client satisfaction
  • Outcomes
  • Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL)
  • Family Adaptability and Cohesion Scale (FACES)
  • Genogram (Hartman and Laird, 1993)
  • Child Welfare Family Risk Assessment
  • Treatment case records
  • Caseworker records
Casey Family Services Post-Adoption Program, New England
  • Characteristics of families and children served
  • Services delivered
  • Outcomes
  • Assessment instruments developed by program staff
  • Case records at opening and closing
  • Focus groups with adoptive parents

Evaluations that attempt to assess the entire program rather than specific components will inevitably be limited in their ability to link services to outcomes. The nearly limitless combinations of amount and type of services, compounded by the diversity of adoptive families, make it difficult to unravel the threads of what services are effective for which families. Program staff may maintain, however, that the comprehensiveness of the service package in itself is a vital element in the effectiveness of each component.

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