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Voce Strengthens Services to Adoptive Families

FDR has joined with the Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.) to strengthen mental health services provided to adoptive families in Pennsylvania by administering the Training for Adoption Competency (TAC) developed by C.A.S.E. The TAC is a curriculum model for mental health professionals seeking specialized knowledge to address the unique concerns of families formed through adoption. The Dave Thomas Foundation is providing $75,000 of start-up funding to initiate the program in the Commonwealth.

Research shows that children with traumatic experiences of abuse, neglect and abandonment and challenging behavioral and emotional responses are at greater risk of presenting with adjustment problems within their adoptive families. These children’s emotional issues can be complex, and adoptive parents often identify these issues as the primary contributors to family stressors post-adoption.

Access to adoption-competent mental health services is a critical factor in the outcomes for these children and their adoptive families and the success of their adoptions. Over a five-year period, between 2014 and 2018, more than 10,000 children were adopted from the Pennsylvania child welfare system. Risk factors for these children include histories of complex trauma, broken or severed family relationships, frequent transitions or caregivers, and unresolved grief and loss.

Pennsylvania’s adoptive parents seek support services sometimes years after child’s adoption was finalized by calling the Helpline, an information and referral program of the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN). “Therapists without knowledge of adoption issues view the child’s difficulties strictly through the lens of mental health issues.  Although the mental health issue may be there, the root of the issue is adoption-related, which must be addressed for the mental health issue to resolve,” said one adoptive parent. SWAN Helpline Lead Coordinator Jan Scherer agreed, “Families often call seeking therapists, even guidance counselors, who understand the trauma experienced by their adopted children.” 

FDR becomes the most recent TAC state training center, joining sixteen other states implementing the program. The program is listed on the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare, a nationally recognized body that applies rigorous standards of review to identify effective programs. TAC is a post-Master’s curriculum designed by C.A.S.E. with the assistance of a National Advisory Board of adoption experts.

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