25, No. 2
NC Improves Post Adoption Support Services (PASS)
North Carolina recently modified its post adoption support services program to make it more effective than ever.
The NC Division of Social Services (NC DSS) contracts with community-based agencies to provide post adoption support services (PASS). Each provider serves one or more of 11 PASS regions. These agencies provide evidenced-based, trauma-informed services to any North Carolina adoptive family, regardless of whether they adopted through the child welfare system. Services offered by PASS providers include case management, clinical services, crisis intervention, respite, and parenting education and support. More than 1,700 NC families and individuals received PASS in 2018-19 (NCDHHS, 2019).
The Latest Improvements
Important recent changes to PASS include the following:
1. Respite. All PASS providers are now required to offer respite services. This change was made to give adoptive families short-term relief and prevent placement disruptions. Respite services can either be planned activities or crisis out-of-home placement resources and can vary by agency and available resources.
2. Outreach. Although PASS has always been available to all adoptive families, PASS providers must now make extra effort to inform families who have adopted outside foster care about the services available to them.
3. Illegal custody transfers. In 2016, North Carolina made it illegal for anyone to participate in or facilitate unlawful transfer of custody of a child (S.L. 2016-115). PASS providers must now provide targeted outreach and education to families at risk of illegal custody transfer and to families involved in an illegal custody transfer.
4. Data collection. NC DSS has stepped up efforts to measure the effectiveness of PASS. In 2017-18, NC DSS updated the way performance measures are tracked when agencies provide services to more than one region so that outputs, outcomes, and quality measures are reported by region, even when a PASS agency serves multiple regions.
In addition, all PASS agencies now use the same outcome measures. This will enable NC DSS to compare performance among regions and providers, and to better evaluate patterns in service provision and PASS participation across the state.
NC DSS is also partnering with Child Trends to understand how those adopted from foster care in our state fare as young adults. The results of this study will guide future enhancements to our PASS program.
Counties should be the largest source of family referrals to PASS agencies. Unfortunately, they are not. PASS providers are struggling to engage county child welfare agencies.
To address this, in the future North Carolina policy will require county child welfare agencies to refer all families completing an adoption to their PASS provider. PASS is and should be much more than a crisis resource. Agencies and families can depend on PASS services as an ongoing supportive resource to strengthen families and preserve permanency outcomes.
The number of adoptive families in North Carolina continues to grow. Between 2013 and 2017, more than 6,700 children and youth were adopted from foster care in our state (USDHHS, 2019). By continually evolving the PASS program, we seek to support, strengthen, and preserve all adoptive families in NC.
For Adoptive Families. To request post adoption support, adoptive parents should contact the department of social services in their county or the county from which their child was adopted. Specific county information can be found here or by calling 877/625-4371. Families can also self-refer to the PASS provider in their county. Click here for information about PASS agencies and the counties they serve.
All adoptees--including those involved in foreign, domestic, foster care, relative, stepparent and adult adoptions--are eligible to receive post adoption services.
Other NC Resources. Many children available for adoption through the North Carolina child welfare system are eligible for monthly payments, medical benefits, and other services. Monthly adoption assistance payments are based on the age of the child and the child's specific special needs. More information is available on the NC DSS Adoption website. Child welfare workers can also refer to Appendix 3.6 Child Welfare Funding - Adoption Assistance in the NC Child Welfare Policy Manual.
NC Kids. Through NC Kids Adoption and Foster Care Network, NC DSS provides foster care and adoption support services, services for the recruitment and retention of foster and adoptive families, and technical assistance to county child welfare agencies and private child-placing agencies. See Children's Services Practice Notes vol. 19, no. 2 for more on NC Kids.
References for this and other articles in this issue