Much of the demand for help by parents who adopt from foster care comes years after the point of adoption, according to the Donaldson Adoption Institute (DAI), which released two reports today making the case for an increased investment in pre- and post-adoption services.
The first report explains the need for Adoption Support and Preservation (ASAP) services, and the second describes the relatively low investment most states are making in them.
Most foster youth are under the age of six when they are adopted. But 57 percent of those children receive mental health services as teenagers, according to Donaldson’s survey of adoptive parents.
Donaldson cites an Ohio study that found 9.5 percent of children adopted from care had re-entered the system, and 2.2 percent of the foster care adoptions in the state had dissolved. Another study cited by Donaldson found that 34 percent of adoptees who re-entered care saw their adoptions dissolved, and that about two-thirds of that 34 percent were adopted by someone else. [Proposed federal legislation would require states to being tracking the number of failed adoptions each year.]
For the adoptees who end up back in foster care, Donaldson said, the outcomes are grim. They are three-and-a-half times more likely to end up in group homes, and they are also three-and-a-half times more likely to emancipate than other foster youths.
Just 16 of the 45 states who responded to DAI questions reported spending more than $1 million on ASAP services. The total spending amount reported by all 45 states was $50.6 million. Nearly a quarter of that ($11.2 million) is spent by the State of Illinois, which operates an adoption support hotline that connects with an array of private contract providers around the state.
John Kelly is the editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change.