Profiles in Permanency: Reach for Success in Catawba County

The National Quality Improvement Center for Adoption and Guardianship Support and Preservation (QIC-AG) is a five-year cooperative agreement, funded through the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau, designed to promote permanence when reunification is no longer a goal and improve adoption and guardianship preservation and support. For more information about this project, please click here.

Writer April Dinwoodie is profiling each of the eight projects that are overseen by the center for The Chronicle of Social Change. Today, she focuses on Reach for Success in Catawba County, North Carolina, an early-outreach program designed to identify adoptive or guardianship families who might be at higher risk for post-permanency discontinuity or instability and may benefit from a “success coach” model of post-adoption services.

In the past, to meet the needs of adoptive and guardianship families, Catawba County Social Services (CCSS) provided outreach in many ways, including informational mailers to all families whose adoption was finalized in the county, monthly referral reminders of services available, maintaining an online community via a Facebook page, holding quarterly post-adoption consortia and an annual post-adoption conference.

Despite these efforts, CCSS recognized that by the time many families called to request services, they were already in crisis. The CCSS staff felt they were missing an opportunity to proactively serve and intervene early with adoptive families who were either unaware of the support services available or reluctant to initiate contact with CCSS.

Through partnerships with The Duke Endowment and Casey Family Programs, Catawba had previously developed the Success Coach model of post-permanency support services. Success Coaches, employed by the county, work with individual families to strengthen and enhance child well-being by providing support and advocacy. Success Coaches help connect families to community resources, working directly with them on a number of issues including but not limited to:

  • Assessing the needs of their children
  • Offering opportunities to connect with other adoptive families
  • Supporting school needs
  • Providing crisis management
  • Providing individual and group counseling
  • Providing parenting strategies

The QIC-AG team launched the Reach for Success project to proactively identify families in Catawba County that have adopted via public, private domestic and inter-country and who might benefit from Success Coach services. The primary short-term outcome of this intervention was to increase engagement in the existing Success Coach program with the expected long-term outcomes to include increased post-permanency stability, improved behavioral health for children, and improved child and family well-being.

The two-part Reach for Success intervention began with a tailored survey about the families’ experiences and children’s needs. CCSS worked with the QIC-AG evaluation team and contracted with experts in survey research, design and administration at the Survey Research Laboratory (SRL) at the University of Illinois-Chicago to design and implement the survey.

The survey responses were reviewed to see if the families had unmet service needs, or reported difficult child behavioral issues. Families who met these criteria were randomly assigned to an “additional outreach” group, or to a comparison group where additional outreach did not occur. Families assigned to the additional outreach group moved to the second step of the Reach for Success project, which included having a Success Coach call the family to explain the program and ask the parents if they were interested in services.

As of December 2018, 80 families that completed the survey received outreach. Of those families, six reported an interest in having a Success Coach and 14 wanted additional information. A detailed evaluation report is planned for September 2019.

To learn more about the QIC-AG’s work with Reach for Success in Catawba County, check out the full profile online. In future columns for The Chronicle, I will continue to describe the different interventions being tested at the other seven partner sites in more detail.

April Dinwoodie is a transracially adopted person and a nationally recognized thought leader in foster care and adoption. Dinwoodie’s podcast “Born in June, Raised in April: What Adoption Can Teach the World!” helps to facilitate an open dialogue about adoption, foster care and family today. She is the founder of Adoptment, a mentoring program that matches foster youth with adopted adults, and is retained by clients, including the QIC-AG, to help raise awareness of their work to support children and families.   



Learn more about the federal rule change to provide legal representation to children and parents involved in the child welfare system in our exclusive webinarA New Era of Funding Family Justice, with Leslie Heimov and Vivek Sankaran on Feb. 21st. Hosted by John Kelly, Editor-in-Chief for The Chronicle of Social Change.

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