Audrey Coleman, RN-MSN
Volunteer Roles: Military Reviewer; Peer Reviewer; Team Leader
My first experience with COA was in 1999 with what was a NC Area Program. I started as a peer reviewer in 2005, doing two to four site visits a year. I am also a team leader and have recently been approved to be a military reviewer.
Adoption Services establish a permanent family for children and youth awaiting adoption, and increase the well-being and functioning of birth parents, adoptive families, and adopted individuals.
AS 14: Personnel
Personnel are qualified and receive support to facilitate the development of permanent caring relationships between children and adoptive families.
Note: When the organization is unable to fully implement one or more of the practice standards, intensive efforts should be made to fully implement the other standards. For example, if the organization is unable to recruit workers with specific qualifications, it can ensure that appropriate supervision and workload standards are implemented.
Table of Evidence
|Self-Study Evidence||On-Site Evidence||On-Site Activities|
Adoption workers are qualified by:
- an advanced degree in social work or a comparable human service field;
- a bachelor’s degree in social work; or
- a bachelor’s degree with two years of related experience.
Supervisors are qualified by an advanced degree in social work or a comparable human service field and two years of experience in working with children and families, preferably in adoption.
Adoption workers have the competencies to:
- facilitate adoptions that meet applicable legal requirements;
- conduct assessments and identify children with special needs;
- provide support to persons affected by adoption to cope with social and emotional issues;
- facilitate adoptions for children with special needs; and
- maintain and protect confidential information and assist persons served to access information, as outlined by applicable law.
Interpretation: Competency can be demonstrated through education, training, or experience.
Adoption workers and supervisors, depending on job responsibilities, are knowledgeable about relevant provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) including:
- the importance of ICWA and special considerations for working with Indian children;
- the identification of Indian children;
- determination of jurisdiction;
- appropriate notice and collaboration with the child’s tribe;
- placement preferences that support the child’s connection to their native culture and heritage;
- process for, and alternatives to, terminating parental rights; and
- court procedures.
The organization determines the appropriate type of in-service training needed to ensure personnel remain current on adoption trends and practice issues.
Adoption workers maintain a manageable workload, and cases are assigned according to a system that takes into consideration:
- the qualifications and competencies of the worker and the supervisor;
- the complexity and status of the case;
- services provided by other professionals or team members; and
- other organizational responsibilities.
Interpretation: Case complexity can take into account: intensity of child and family needs and size of the family. Generally, caseloads do not exceed 12-25 families. However, there are circumstances under which caseloads may exceed these limits. For example, caseload size may vary depending upon the volume of administrative case functions (e.g., entering notes, filing, etc.) assigned to the worker. Caseloads may also be higher when organizations are faced with temporary vacancies on staff.
Note: The evaluation of this standard will focus on whether the assigned workload is manageable for staff, taking into account the factors cited in the standard and interpretation. The specific caseload sizes stated in the interpretation are only a suggestion of what might be appropriate. Each organization should determine what caseload size is appropriate, and reviewers will evaluate: (1) whether the organization’s designated caseload size reflects a manageable workload, and (2) whether the organization maintains caseloads of the size it deemed appropriate.
Research Note: Research on special needs adoptions suggests that high caseloads can make it difficult to recruit prospective adoptive families, and can delay the processing of homestudies and background checks. Additionally, high caseloads may lead to infrequent contact by adoption workers, which can cause some prospective adoptive parents to seek services from other providers.
Supervisors or experienced workers provide additional knowledge, skills, and support when personnel are new or are still developing competencies.