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


Most adoptions have positive outcomes both for children and their families. Many families need supportive services, however, during some part of their child's development. In response to these needs, most states have developed post-adoption service (PAS) programs designed to prevent adoption disruptions or dissolutions and support child and family well-being.

This report is part of a project that examines these rapidly growing and evolving PAS programs, using a literature review (Barth, Gibbs, and Siebenaler, 2001), case studies of well-regarded programs (Gibbs, Siebenaler, Harris, and Barth, 2002), and secondary data analysis (Barth, Wildfire, Lee, and Gibbs, 2002). To examine PAS evaluation issues, the study team drew on the literature review and data from the case studies to address the following questions:

  • What kinds of evaluations are currently being done in PAS programs?
  • How do the characteristics and context of PAS programs affect their evaluation?
  • What goals and strategies should guide evaluation practice for PAS?

This project was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), under contract to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE). Research was conducted by RTI and the School of Social Work, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Staff involved in the PAS programs participating in the case studies, as well as Susan Smith of the Center for Adoption Studies at Illinois State University, gave generously of their time and insights.

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