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Richard P. Barth, Ph.D Dean and Professor School of Social Work University of Maryland PowerPoint Presentation
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Richard P. Barth, Ph.D Dean and Professor School of Social Work University of Maryland

Richard P. Barth, Ph.D Dean and Professor School of Social Work University of Maryland

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Richard P. Barth, Ph.D Dean and Professor School of Social Work University of Maryland

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  1. Adoption Policy:The research-policy link and implications for dissemination of programs into real-world settings Presented at the Improving Outcomes for Adopted Children and Families Conference Eugene Oregon November 16, 2010 Richard P. Barth, Ph.D Dean and Professor School of Social Work University of Maryland rbarth@ssw.umaryland.edu

  2. Structure of the Talk • Who is being adopted from foster care after what length of time? • What are the adoptive family selection and preparation processes like? • What are the post-adoption services like now? • What are the outcomes regarding the range of positive and adverse outcomes by case characteristics? • What else needs to be done to add effectiveness to: 1. adoptive family selection 2. adoptive family preparation 3. post-adoption support (at different levels of intensity) • What would the challenges be in implementing service changes?

  3. Adoption from Foster Care Who (by age) is being adopted from foster care after what length of time? What happens to the children?

  4. Who Gets Adopted by Whom? • 20% of foster children who exit foster care each year go to adoption (about 55,000/year) • About half (56%) of all children who are adopted are adopted by 5 years of age • 66% of adoptive families have a 2 parent family • 28% are single females • 66% are non-relatives

  5. Time to Adoption • As many as 50% of all infants placed into foster care may, ultimately, be adopted • Adoptions take a long time—only 29% of children who are adopted achieve that status within 2 years of entering foster care • Once children are legally free about half of them have a finalized adoption in the next year • 4 years is a good estimate of the time from foster care placement to adoption for those who are adopted

  6. Adoption Outcomes a. Continuing without clinical intervention (Only 9% of parents report no MH use since adoption for children 8 or older, NSAP, unweighted) b. Continuing with use of (or need for) clinical intervention (91%) c. Disruption prior to finalization/legalization [never leaves foster care] About 11% over 3-5 years d. Dissolution/set aside after finalization/legalization [returns to CWA custody] About 5% over 3-5 years e. Displacement [moves to another setting but does not return to custody of CWA] 15% of children 8 & older have lived away (2 wks) (NSAP, unweighted) f. Other adverse outcomes (run away, move to other kind of custody [juvenile services or mental health] ???? g.Disruption/Dissolution/Displacement/Other (c through f, called “disruption” for short) About 20% over 10 years (my slightly educated guess) h. Adverse Adoption Outcomes (c through f, unduplicated) ???? 6

  7. Child and Family Risk Factors for Adoption Disruption Older age at time of placement Partial disclosure of information regarding child’s problems (strengths-based assessments are not enough) Threatens people, trouble at school, and cruelty to others are indicators of concern More educated and younger mothers may be more likely to experience disruptions Rigid or very high expectations for academic performance and family joining may increase risk 7

  8. Child and Family Protective Factors for Adoption Stability (Barth & Berry, 1988) Younger children Placement of two siblings into home with no biological children may cut risk Receiving subsidy may increase stability Children with physical handicaps have reduced risk Sexual abuse, neglect, multiple foster homes (Simmel, 2007) High Family Sense of Coherence [Antonovsky] cuts risk (Ji, Brooks, Barth, Kim, 2010) Expectations that are based on accurate information (Barth, 8

  9. Service Characteristics Associated with Reduced Risk of Disruption Comprehensive and realistic information about the child (and adoptive family) Parents participate in group “home study” (peer-to-peer) process Family receives educational support Family pursues timely adoption preservation services that are flexible and long-lasting MAPP and PRIDE have shown no effect Yet the value of this approach has become canon THERE HAVE GOT TO BE MORE! 9

  10. What Are Adoptive Family Selection And Preparation Processes?

  11. Home Studies & Parent Preparation • Purposes • To educate and prepare foster and adoptive families for child placement • To gather information about the family for purposes of matching parent capacities and interests to child • To evaluate the fitness of the family (Children’s Bureau, 2004) • Process • Training (MAPP, PRIDE); individual and joint interviews; home visits; health documentation; financial information; criminal background checks; references • No evidence of impact on outcomes • Wide variability across agencies and jurisdictions • Little research over the last 30 years (Crea et al., 2007)

  12. Adoptive Family Selection & Matching • Adoptive parents are not rigorously screened • No standardized home study • Many home studies fail to ask hard questions about alcohol, violence, pornography, juvenile services history (not as rule outs but as conditions needing evidence of mitigation) • There is no demonstration of parenting • Matching of children’s needs with family strengths and capacities is very informal and often based only on availability of parent and overt characteristics such as county they live in or parent and child race 12

  13. Adoptive Family Preparation • MAPP and PRIDE adoptive and foster care preparation programs have vast reach but no evinced effectiveness • Mixed Goals • Recruit • Screen • Prepare • Very Attachment Based • No application after child arrives in home 13

  14. Increasing Effectiveness of “Intake” • What needs to be done to add effectiveness to: • Standardized home studies that actually screen families while also looking to recruit them • Routine post-adoption services planning based on information that is gathered during home study • Need some kind of “Family Check-up” at outset of adoption 14

  15. Post-Adoption Processes • Conventional procedure is to have 6-months of home visits from adoption agency (about 4 visits) after child is placed into the home that involve some observation and meetings with child(ren) and families • PAS is not well-funded or administered • There is some federal funding but it is not designated for PAS • Almost no research exists on outcomes 15

  16. Summary: Do Post-Adoption Services Reduce Disruption? • No affirmative clinical trials showing changes in interim benefits or disruption reduction • Yet, there is substantial need for PAS because of: • Behavior problems of adopted children • Inadequacies of Medicaid funded services • Dangerous and extreme methods in use (e.g., holding therapy)

  17. Research Regarding the Path to Adoption Disruption

  18. The Path to Adoption Disruption • Inadequate pre-adoption preparation • Children fail to meet parent expectations • Children’s behavior does not improve • Children do not act in ways that parents view as showing closeness or appreciation • School related distress • Injury or harm to birth children or parent • Sometimes signaled by subsidy adjustments in size or location of family • Rarely through abuse & neglect and removal

  19. Pathways to Problems II • Poor information prior to and during adoption • Family is unable to obtain needed educational support • Difficulty with child does not decrease with time (staying the same is not good enough) • Family pursues help that is too late or focuses only on child treatment (rather than family and environmental qualities) • Perceived continued harm to biological children or parents if adoption continues

  20. Length of Time until Dissolution (NC) • The number of days between the final adoption decree and subsequent dissolution • About 50% of these dissolutions occurs within 3 years of finalization of adoption

  21. Post-Adoption Services & Support

  22. CFS: Most Commonly Identified Family Needs • Relationship issues (47%) • Child – self-image (44%) • Birth family grief/loss (42%) • Child-peer/adult relationship (41%) • Child behavior at home (37%) • Prevention--education/info/support (35%) • School related (35%)

  23. Post-Adoption Services & Supports: Types and Effectiveness Self-help groups Warm-lines Increase subsidies to allow purchase of services (e.g., residential care) Intensive Adoption Preservation Services General Adoption Preservation Illinois Model Maine GUIDES Missouri Oregon model??? 23

  24. Hard to Find Evidence of Impact of PASS • Homebuilders demo in 1980s failed (55% success rate) • Adoption preservation program in IL failed: • Restructured into longer program • Added educational advocate • Maine Adoption Guides failed • Program dominated by attachment perspective as if adoption needs its own theory of family life

  25. Missouri Did Better (Berry) • Slightly extended IFPS model (6 to 26 weeks; N=99) • Oldest child in the family at risk of placement (mean age = 15.3 years) • Services began an average of two months into the placement • 9% disrupted before services began • 83% of all the adoptive families were intact six months later (8% disrupted after services) • Longer services were associated with better outcomes at 1-year

  26. Summary: Do Post-Adoption Services & Supports Reduce Disruption? • No affirmative clinical trials showing changes in interim benefits or disruption reduction • Disruption is not a well performing DV • Yet, there is substantial need for PASS • Behavior problems of adopted children • Inadequacies of Medicaid funded services • Dangerous and extreme methods in use (e.g., holding therapy) • High rates of displacement

  27. Building on Empirically Based Interventions • Develop empirically-based post-adoption services approaches based on other successful—or very promising--treatments for youth • PMT-O • Project KEEP • Abuse Focused-CBT • TF-CBT • Common Elements Approach of Weisz and Chorpita • Add adoption sensitivityto improve the engagement of adoptive parents in EBPs: no need to create an entire set of interventions using attachment theory

  28. Post-Adoption Competency Training • Examples of Clinical Adoption Competencies • Issues in the adoption triad • Legal issues in adoption • Differences between adoptive and not-adoptive families • Loss, grief, separation, trauma, attachment • Genetics, neuroscience, prenatal exposure to stress and drugs • Openness in adoption • Advocacy

  29. Challenges & Opportunities What challenges (and opportunities) are there for implementing service changes?

  30. Challenges & Opportunities • The framework for adoption support is limited • Just starting to do any “extra” licensing home studies of foster parents (SAFE) • No history of parenting assessment • No history of post-placement Family Check up or parenting services (beyond minimal checking prior to legalization) • Adoption workers are not often clinically trained • Home study workers are often contract workers • Federal Safe and Stable Families funds are very limited and mostly used for recruitment

  31. CHALLENGES: Post-Adoption Services Have Been Dominated by Attachment Theories and Therapies • Assumes that adopted children are more different than the same as not-adopted children • Not-adopted children rarely, if ever, get attachment focused treatments • Assumes that the stress and disinhibitory responses of adopted children are from attachment rather than other contributors (OSLC Investigators & Colleagues have shown otherwise) • Too often assumes that attachment is a practice theory that works across age groups and not a developmental theory for young children.

  32. Opportunities Growing recognition of needs of adoptive families expected from NSAP PP[ACA] may support more mental health treatment for adoptive families As number of foster children drops the resources from IVE may be freed to respond to “post-permanency” needs Adoptive families are strong advocates International post-adoption problems now getting recognition in State Dept.

  33. Take Home Points • The US does more adoptions than all other countries combined • More US children are in adoptive homes than in FC • We have a limited sense of the path to adverse adoption outcomes and need to know much more • Adoption interventions have been a disappointment • Very little science has been applied • Improvements in adoption outcomes are likely to require pre-adoption advances as well as improved PASS • Improving adoption services offer the promise of teaching us about successful approaches to other difficult family problems

  34. Partial References Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2003). Creative strategies for financing post-adoption services. A White Paper. Baltimore, MD: Casey Family Services The Casey Center for Effective Child Welfare Practice. Barth, R. P. (2002). Outcomes of adoption and what they tell us about designing adoption services. Adoption Quarterly, 6, 45-60. Barth R. P., & Berry, M. (1988). Adoption and disruption: Rates, risks and resources. New York: Aldine. Barth, R. P., & Brooks, D. (1997). A longitudinal study of family structure, family size, and adoption outcomes. Adoption Quarterly, 1, 29‑56. Barth, R. P., & Miller, J. (2001). Building effective post-adoption services: What are the empirical foundations? Family Relations, 49, 447-455. Barth, R.P., Wildfire, J., Lee, C.K., & Gibbs, D. (2003). Adoption subsidy dynamics. Adoption Quarterly, 7(2), 3-27. Berry, M., Propp, J., & Martens, P. (2007). The use of intensive family preservation services with adoptive families. Child & Family Social Work, 12(1), 43-53. Brooks, D. (2000). Outcomes of adoptions from the adoptee’s perspective. Unpublished doctoral dissertation available from the author at University of Southern California, School of Social Work. Brooks, D. & Barth, R.P. (1999). Adjustment outcomes of adult transracial and inracial adoptees: Effects of race, gender, adoptive family structure, and placement history. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 69, 87-102. Chorpita, B. F., Becker, K. D., & Daleiden, E. L. (2007). Understanding the common elements of evidence-based practice: Misconceptions and clinical examples. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 46(5), 647-652.

  35. Partial References Coakley, J. F., & Berrick, J. D. (2008). Research Review: In a rush to permanency: preventing adoption disruption. Child & Family Social Work, 13(1), 101-112. Cohen, J. A., Mannarino, A. P., Zhitova, A. C., & Capone, M. E. (2003). Treating child abuse-related posttraumatic stress and comorbid substance abuse in adolescents. Child Abuse & Neglect, 27(12), 1345-1365. FoulkesCoakley, J. (2005). Finalized adoption disruption: A family perspective. Unpublished manuscript, University of California at Berkeley. Gibbs, D., Barth, R. P., & Houts, R. (2005). Family characteristics and dynamics among families receiving post-adoption services. Families in Society, 86, 520-532. Goerge, R.M., Howard, E.C., Yu, D., Radmosky, S. (1995). Adoption, disruption, and displccement in the child welfare system (1976-1995). Chicago: Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago. Ji, J., Brooks, D., Barth, R. P., & Kim, H. (2010). Beyond preadoptive risk: The impact of adoptive family environment on adopted youth's psychosocial adjustment. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 80, 432-442. Lahti, M., Detgen, A. (2005). Main Adoption Guides Project: Final Evaluation Report. University of Southern Maine. Smith, S. L., Howard, J. A., Garnier, P. C., & Ryan, S. D. (2006). Where Are We Now?: A Post-ASFA Examination of Adoption Disruption. Adoption Quarterly, 9, 19-44. Wind, L. H., Brooks, D., & Barth, R. P. (2007). Influences of Risk History and Adoption Preparation on Post-Adoption Services Use in U.S. Adoptions* doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2007.00467.x. Family Relations, 56(4), 378-389.