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


Most adoptions have positive outcomes both for children and their families. However, many families need supportive services during some part of their childs development. In response to these needs, many states have developed post-adoption service (PAS) programs as well as other supports that extend their subsidy programs beyond the federally prescribed standards. As the pace of adoptions from public child welfare systems continues to increase, in many states the number of children receiving adoption subsidies has surpassed the number of children in foster care.

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), analysis of secondary data, and case studies of well-regarded programs. The case study component used interviews with state adoption program managers and PAS providers as well as focus groups with adoptive parents to address the following research questions:

  • What are the service needs of families following adoption of a child from the public child welfare system?
  • What are the characteristics of existing PAS programs?
  • How are PAS programs monitoring and assessing their effectiveness?

The report focuses on services that fall within each states definitions of its PAS program, although these boundaries vary somewhat across states. Also examined are how states use subsidies and other forms of support to assist adoptive families. Evaluation issues within PAS programs, described here in the context of activities in the case-study states, will be discussed in greater depth in a forthcoming report.

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 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Staff involved in the five states PAS programs, as well as adoptive parents participating in focus groups, gave generously of their time to meet with the project team.

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