Adopt and Adoption programs are designed to improve permanency outcomes for children and youth in foster care. CONCERN is committed to helping children find a permanent family they can call their own. As an affiliate of the PA Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN), the department provides the following services
A Child Profile is developed for use with prospective families in the matching process and to provide information to the child regarding his life and history. It includes information about the child’s developmental, social, psychological, medical and educational history, her birth family, her current behaviors and relationships and her readiness for adoption. A copy of the Child Profile is given to the family prior to finalization of the adoption.
Child Profiles are developed by reviewing records at the county agency and foster care agency, requesting additional records, interviewing various birth relatives and other significant people in the child’s life if possible, and meeting with the child and his foster or foster/adoptive family.
Child Preparation Services have been developed to assist children as they prepare for a permanency option, which may include adoption, permanent legal custodianship, kinship care, a return home or another permanent living arrangement.
Child preparation includes three objectives: clarification – helping the child understand what happened to him; integration – helping the child understand and accept that he is part of more than one family; and actualization – helping the child visualize himself as a member of a permanent placement.
Child Specific Recruitment (CSR) is a unique method of finding permanent homes for waiting children.
It’s a great way to let families from other communities learn about the children we serve. Through a special plan that is developed with and for each child with his individual needs in mind, we give waiting children an opportunity to be seen by prospective families.
Selected children will be asked for their input and feelings on publicity. They will be involved in the development of flyers and brochures that highlight their strengths and the positive things about them.
CSR is also a way to find permanent connections and a network of support for an older youth who faces the prospect of “aging out” of the system. Children and youth without a goal of adoption often benefit from assistance in locating and reconnecting with extended family and other adults from their past who can support the youth in a variety of ways.
The Family Profile
A Family Profile is a confidential document legally required for the finalization of an adoption.
Family Profiles address various family issues to gain an idea of the family as a unit and who the individuals are within the family. In addition to being used as an adoption finalization document, family profiles also can be used as a tool for matching families and children.
The family preparation/study process seeks to get to know the family, how it works, why it works for those included in the family, how the family approaches stress and crises, and how the child fits into this family with his/her unique special needs.
The family preparation/study process includes an orientation to the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN) and a 24-hour preparation training on various topics pertinent to the adoption of special needs children.
Placement and matching services involve working with families who desire to expand their family through adoption but who do not already have an identified child. When the Family Profile is completed, the family and their worker search for children who are in need of a permanent home who would be a good “fit” for the child and the family. The Permanency worker provides support to families during this process until the family is selected for a specific child and the match is made. A series of pre-placement visits occur before the child is moved to the family’s home, and the worker assists the family in identifying the child’s needs and obtaining the appropriate services for the child in their community.
After a placement occurs and adoption finalization services begin, supervisory visits occur on at least a monthly basis and reports are provided to the county with legal custody of the child. As the time for finalization approaches, CONCERN can assist the family in securing the services of a qualified attorney. We prepare the Intent to Adopt, Intermediary Report and Confidential Information to Attorney forms.
We submit these documents along with other required documents to the attorney, who then prepares the petition. The attorney files the documents in the court and acquires a finalization date. The family is accompanied to court by its assigned permanency specialist, who has been working with them throughout the process.
For Those Considering Adoption
Adoption Information Meeting/Orientation
Held in a group setting or individually with a family, the adoption information meeting/orientation provides prospective families with an overview of the types of children who need adoptive families, the adoption process, information about foster-to-adopt and legal risk placements, how to apply for adoption services, and possible costs/fees. For information about adoption meeting times and locations, please contact the Adoption Department.
An application is required to begin the process. The application is a preliminary gathering of information pertinent to the process and an initial review of the interests and capacity of the family. Things for families to consider are the strengths and weaknesses of the family; the type of child that would be a good fit; preference for a child such as age, gender, race, or ethnicity; how well could your family meet the needs of a child with physical, emotional, or mental challenges; and willingness to adopt siblings or older adolescents.
Also known as the home study, it is a lengthy document compiled by a Permanency Specialist through interviews and written materials supplied by the family. Numerous documents are required for submission by the family, as well as the completion of several agency-provided documents. The Family Profile is a comprehensive depiction of the family and current circumstances, the strengths of family members, and an examination of critical factors, which serves as the basis of evaluation and recommendations for an adoptive placement.
Family Preparation Training
Training is required as part of the Family Profile process. CONCERN requires 24 hours of family preparation training, which covers such topics as how the system works, who the children are, child development, parenting, attachment, grief and loss, trauma, who the foster and adoptive parents are, and resources.
Training could take place over the course of several Saturdays or during the week, depending on the office location. The trainings are offered in our regional offices located in Bethlehem, Eynon, Fleetwood, Lewisburg, and Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.
For families who are looking to be matched with a waiting child, when the Family Profile and Preparation process is completed, the family’s worker will help with the process of identifying and matching children with the family.
Most children waiting in the system are older than five with moderate issues. Younger children do become available, but the waiting time can be lengthy or a child may need to be placed at “legal risk.” Matching is the process of sharing family and child information to ensure the child and family are a good “fit.” After a match is made, the family participates in a series of pre-placement visits with the child before the child is placed in the home.
Once placement has occurred, the child is supervised in the pre-adoptive home for a period of six months prior to the finalization of the adoption. Ongoing support and information is also available, as needed, after the adoption has occurred. Post-Permanency services are available to all families in Pennsylvania who have adopted or provide permanent legal custodianship. Families can contact the SWAN Helpline at 1-800-585-7926 to request Post-Permanency services in their area.
Frequently Asked Questions
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO COMPLETE THE FAMILY PROFILE/APPROVAL DOCUMENT?
By SWAN guidelines, it should take approximately 4 months. However, the timing of the Family Profile/Approval Document is driven by the family. Most of the documentation that is required must be submitted by the family before the interview process can begin. The timing of the family’s attendance at the trainings can also impact the completion of the profile.
CAN I SEE THE FAMILY PROFILE/APPROVAL DOCUMENT?
Yes. Once it is completed, you will have the opportunity to review your profile for accuracy before CONCERN shares it with other adoption agencies. As the most critical piece of the adoption recommendation process, it’s vital that the information contained in it be accurate and valid. Family Profiles are generally required for all adoptions in Pennsylvania.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO COMPLETE THE ADOPTION PROCESS?
Generally about one year. Along with the type of adoption, there are a number of other factors that determine the exact time necessary before an adoption is finalized. In many cases, however, adoptive families are matched with children and adoptive placements are made within a year of completing the Family Profile.
ONCE MY CHILD IS FOUND, IS THERE A WAITING PERIOD BEFORE I CAN ADOPT HIM/HER?
Yes, a child must be placed in an adoptive home for about six months prior to the adoption being finalized.
IS THERE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE BEFORE, DURING, OR AFTER THE ADOPTION PROCESS TO HELP IN ADOPTING AND/OR CARING FOR MY ADOPTIVE CHILD?
There are two forms of assistance available to adoptive parents. There is an adoption subsidy and a tax credit. An adoption subsidy is a legal contract that is negotiated between the county children and youth agency that has custody of the child and the family who wishes to adopt the child. If a child is eligible, the subsidy has three parts to it. There is a cash per diem that is usually paid on a monthly basis, a medical assistance card, and reimbursement for one-time, non-recurring fees for the adoption of the child.
A tax credit is also available to some adoptive parents of special needs children. A family’s modified adjusted gross income must be of a certain level. The amount of the credit will depend on your income. The amount of the tax credit varies each tax year. Families should see their tax advisers for additional information. Other resources that can provide information are email@example.com or visit the website nacac.org
Privacy - HIPAA
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) provides comprehensive guidance for patients including their privacy rights concerning the use or disclosure of their medical information. These rights are described in detail in the Notice of Privacy Practices.