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August 2021   |   Archive   |   National Adoption Month  

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Recruiting and Training Adoptive Families for Youth With Emotional and Behavioral Needs

Children and youth involved in the child welfare system are more likely to exhibit disruptive, hyperactive, and aggressive behaviors than those in the general population. They are also more likely to experience depression and anxiety. These complex challenges are the result of several factors. Specifically, children and youth in foster care have often experienced child abuse and/neglect, which is related to the development of chronic physical and mental health issues. Additionally, disruptions in social support networks due to placement in out-of-home care and placement disruption are additional risk factors for emotional and behavioral challenges.

When professionals prioritize specialized recruitment, training, and support, more families will have the capacity and skills to meet the needs of youth with higher needs and provide permanence. There are several things that professionals can do to recruit families for youth with challenges. Utilizing child-specific recruitment is often most successful for children and teens with unique needs. Consider those already known to the youth as well as parents from allied helping fields, like nursing and education, who are often excellent placements given that they are more familiar with the emotional and behavioral challenges children experience. Assess potential parents for common characteristics considered to be essential for successful parenting of children and youth with emotional and behavioral needs.

After resource families have been recruited, they require specialized training and support, which includes psychoeducation about the impact of trauma and separation and loss on child development and training in behavior management techniques and attachment-focused interventions. The Children’s Bureau has funded the development of training curriculums such as CORE Teen and the National Training and Development Curriculum. Families also require access to quality support services such as crisis intervention, peer support, and adoption competent therapy. Taken together, targeted recruitment strategies, specialized training, and ongoing support services can increase the number of homes available for children and youth with complex emotional and behavioral needs.

3 Resources to Recruit and Support Adoptive Families for Youth With Emotional and Behavioral Needs

A CHAMPS Guide on Foster Parent
Recruitment and Retention: Strategies
for Developing a Comprehensive


By Children Need
Amazing Parents


Recruiting, Developing,
& Supporting Treatment and/or Therapeutic Resource Families



By AdoptUSKids

What Are Some
Strategies for Finding
and Keeping Traditional and Therapeutic
Resource Families?

By Casey Family



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