Performance Improvement 2004. Assessing the field of post-adoption services: family needs, program models, and evaluation issues


The purposes of the project were to bring together what is known about post-adoption services from existing research, what can be learned from the analysis of national and/or multi-state data and visits to existing programs, and to suggest an agenda for future federal research on these issues, particularly as they arise from the Adoption and Safe Families Act. This report focuses on evaluation issues. It reviews existing evaluations of post adoption services, including needs assessments, data on the characteristics of children and families served, client satisfaction assessments, and outcome evaluations. The report describes constraints and incentives for evaluation in this field and suggests strategies and directions for future evaluations. The child welfare field has spent a great deal of time during the last several years focusing on increasing the number of children adopted from the public child welfare system. The increasing number of children adopted has given rise to concerns about the need for improved post- adoption services to support adoptive families who may experience difficulties. Through several analytical methods, this project has explored the service needs of families following the adoption of a child from the public child welfare system and has assessed the “state of the art” in the current array of post adoption services.. Two particular strategies are suggested. The first strategy is the development of fundamental evaluation tools that can reduce the start-up costs of evaluation to programs and increase comparability of evaluations across programs. This would include consistent service classifications, a basic program data set to describe child and family characteristics and functioning, and identification of a core set of “best practices” models with recommended evaluation strategies. The second strategy is the implementation of measures to reduce barriers to evaluation at the federal and state levels. This would include promoting evaluation as a program improvement tool and making evaluation processes more useful to programs and families, earmarking evaluation funds so that evaluation activities are not perceived as impinging on service delivery; and providing technical assistance to post-adoption services programs to assist with design, data collection, and analysis.

PIC ID: 7952.1
Agency Sponsor: ASPE-OHSP, Office of Human Services Policy
Federal Contact: Radel, Laura, 202-690-5938
Performer: RTI International, Research Triangle Park, NC

View full report


"pi_2004.pdf" (pdf, 713.01Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®