State Adoption Call-to-Action Plans
The Children’s Bureau issued a call to action in 2019 asking States to develop new strategies to achieve timely permanency for the tens of thousands of children and youth in foster care who are waiting to be adopted. Highlighted below are four States that have implemented action plans that focus on older youth adoption and/or youth engagement.
- Recruitment and permanency for youth ages 12–18.
- Increase older-youth exits through reunification/parental rights reinstatement, permanent guardianship, or legal or relational permanency.
- Implement permanency roundtable (PRT):
- Lunch & Learns for workers and staff are being planned to help educate them further.
- A training for supervisors is being planned for summer 2020.
- Consider a youth mentor program.
- Hold a match event for older youth in the fall of 2020.
- Continue child-specific recruitment and use the Darla Henry 3-5-7 model with youth:
- Consider a 3-5-7 training by Darla Henry for new staff.
- Engage youth in recruitment efforts.
- Decrease the time to permanency.
- Strengthen the number of permanency resources available for all children, especially older youth.
- Develop a Speaker’s Bureau with at least nine families to start.
- Localize AdoptUSKids public service announcements.
- Wendy’s Wonderful Kids:
- Add a ninth recruiter to specifically recruit for older youth.
- Implement the National Mental Health Competency Training Initiative.
- Expanded the State’s tracking system to monitor children that have the goal of adoption as well as those freed for adoption.
- Review data on monthly calls with our nine regional adoption units to discuss barriers, identify solutions, and determine trends statewide, regionally, and by parish.
- Focus on children who have an identified permanent placement, but the necessary paperwork still needs to be completed by the potential adoptive family.
- Monitor all pending cases of children freed and placed with an out-of-State adoptive home through ICPC.
- ICPC Challenges:
- Staff need training on what type of homestudy to request and how to complete referrals.
- There is a need to consider the time it takes the other States to process ICPC requests.
- The adoptive family may be noncompliant.
- Through the monthly staffing of each child’s case, staff can collaborate and identify solutions to eliminate the barriers, thus decreasing the time involved in the overall process.
- ICPC Challenges:
- Youth-Centered Permanency Roundtables (YCPRT)
- Develop an Ohio-specific brand with new fidelity measures and guidelines.
- Establish learning communities and resource sharing and provide coaching support to counties implementing the model.
- Ohio will implement YCPRT to fidelity to achieve the following goals:
- Create a concrete action plan to achieve permanency for youth.
- Identify systemic and cultural barriers to permanency.
- Develop a real-time learning lab for child welfare professionals.
- YCPRT requires active participation from youth and their support people in all permanency-planning efforts.
- YCPRT provides an ongoing opportunity for the team to develop relational permanency connections on the path toward legal permanency.
- Youth engagement
- In-Depth Profiles
- Every youth in foster care has a story to tell—their own. When we recruit adoptive families, we often find ourselves telling the stories of youth on their behalf.
- Youth engagement and empowerment are paramount for effective, youth-centered recruitment.
- Northwest Adoption Exchange (NWAE), in collaboration with the Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families, launched In-Depth Profiles in 2017.
- Measured, substantial increases in family inquiries and engagement, as well as placements, for youth who help create their own In-Depth Profiles.
- Lessons learned from this work include the following:
- When youth get to decide for themselves and have the opportunity fully explained, they are far more likely to be invested and engaged.
- Allow youth time to consider participating, ask questions, and be creative.
- Youth engagement is not one size fits all:
- We are always looking for new ways to be creative with youth, tailor their projects to them, and say “yes” to their ideas.
- This includes encouraging podcasts, photography projects, poetry, artwork, cooking tutorials, and music recordings.
- The core principles of this work—empowering and involving youth, giving youth time to be creative and the opportunity to say yes, and tailoring our approaches to fit their ideas—can apply to any adoption recruitment effort.
- When we empower youth and allow them to be their own storytellers, we are more likely to find them the adoptive families they deserve.