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2011 Jordan Institute
for Families

Vol. 16, No. 3
July 2011

Post-Adoption Support Efforts in North Carolina

To succeed with children adopted from foster care, the majority of whom have special needs, families need ongoing support in various forms (Kramer & Houston, 1999). Indeed, there seems to be a strong relationship between post-adopt supportive services and the health, well-being, and stability of adoptive families (Freundlich & Wright, 2003).

Potential Benefits of PAS
  • Preventing Dissolution and Out-of-Home Placement. Services after the final decree of adoption promote the well-being of families and minimize the possibility that adoptions will fail.
  • Promoting Family Well-being. There is evidence of a strong relationship between providing post-adoption support and the health, well-being, and stability of families, especially when counseling and other mental health services are provided.
  • Recruiting Adoptive Parents. Knowing support will be available after the adoption plays a critical role in many prospective adoptive parents’ decisions to go forward with the adoption.

Source: Casey Family Services, 2002

The importance of post-adoption services is reflected in North Carolina policy, which says clearly that after the adoption, agencies continue to have “a moral obligation and a social responsibility for the welfare” of the children they helped become adopted (NCDSS, 2011). To help local agencies fulfill this obligation, the NC Division of Social Services provides the following resources.

Services to Support Every County DSS
The Division awards three-year grants to private agencies to provide post-adoption support (PAS). Every county has a specific grantee responsible for providing PAS services. The grant program’s overall goal is to reduce the number of adoption dissolutions; any family that has adopted a child from foster care is eligible to receive PAS.

The staff of PAS provider agencies must undergo criminal background checks and meet experience and education requirements; in particular they must be trained in evidence-based, trauma focused, cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) and the impact of trauma on children in the foster care system and adoptive children. Staff from PAS agencies must be able to transfer this knowledge to their work with adoptive families and, when appropriate, refer families to TF-CBT.

On a regular basis, PAS provider agencies must make county DSS agencies aware of the services they provide. They must also make mental health, physical health, and school professionals in their region aware of the special needs of adoptive children.

Under this program, a county DSS can refer a family to its designated PAS provider at any time after the final decree and the agency will provide up to a year of services to the family. Services can include crisis management, behavioral strategies, family preservation services, information and community referral, and specialized training. For contact information for the PAS provider serving your area, contact the Division of Social Services’ Rita Bland (919/334-1167; Rita.Bland@dhhs.nc.gov).

Financial Resources
North Carolina also furthers post-adoption support efforts by providing the following financial resources:

Adoption Cash Assistance Payments. For each child with special needs they adopt, North Carolina families receive monthly adoption assistance payments. The current monthly rates are $475 for children age birth–5, $581 for children age 6–12, and $634 for children age 13–18.

Adoption Assistance Vendor Payments. North Carolina also provides $2,400 in vendor payments to help adoptive families meet medical and therapeutic needs not covered by Medicaid, and to support the educational and respite needs of children who qualify for such services.

NC’s Adoption Promotion Program. Created by the legislature in 1997, this program makes payments to public and private adoption agencies for every child they place over and above an agency-specific baseline. Payments are as follows: $7,200 to agencies for children aged 0-12, $12,000 for ALL children aged 13-18 (regardless of whether an agency has met its baseline), and $12,000 per child for sibling groups of three or more who are placed together at the same time in an adoptive family.

Agencies may use this money to fund services related to adoption and post-adoption support. The “catch” with this program is that the money is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Thus, agencies that place more children for adoption earlier in the year may receive more money than others. The fund is often depleted by April or May each year. For more program details for the current state fiscal year, go to <http://www.ncdhhs.gov/dss/dcdl/famsupchildwelfare/CWS-24-2010.pdf>.

References for this and other articles in this issue