WHO IS ACCREDITED?

Private Organization Accreditation

Heartland for Children is the not-for-profit agency responsible for the foster care system in Polk, Highlands, and Hardee Counties.
read more >>

VOLUNTEER TESTIMONIAL

Mike Angstadt

Volunteer Roles: Commissioner; Hague Evaluator; Lead Evaluator; Peer Reviewer; Team Leader

Serving as a Team Leader for COA has been an enriching experience in many ways. Utilizing the Contextual Accreditation process to discern the means in which agencies, offering a variety of services, located throughout the US, Canada ,the Philippines and other countries provide best and most promising practices to their consumers has been particularly rewarding. read more>>

Purpose

Child and Family Services promote child and family well-being, protect children’s safety, stablilize and strengthen families, and ensure permanency.

PA-CFS 27: Preparation for Adoption or Guardianship

Children, birth families, and prospective adoptive parents or guardians are prepared for adoption or transfer of custody. 
 

Interpretation: It may be appropriate to include extended family members in preparatory services if their involvement is appropriate. When cases involve American Indian or Alaska Native children resources offered by the tribe or local Indian organizations should be considered.

Note: See PA-CFS 14 for more information regarding expectations around planning for permanency.

Table of Evidence

Self-Study Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
    • A description of services that prepare birth parents and children for adoption or guardianship
    • Procedures for: 
      1. Terminating parental rights
      2. Conducting child study
      3. Establishing continued contact and openness in adoption
    • Informational materials provided to birth parents
    • Informational materials provided to children
    • Curricula for orientation and training provided to prospective adoptive parents and guardians 
    • Information provided to workers regarding available subsidies
    • Interview:
      1. Agency leadership
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Children and families served
      4. Resource parents
    • Review case records 
    • Review resource parent records 

  • PA-CFS 27.01

    Custody status is clearly established before the initiation of adoption services, and the agency acts in accordance with federal and state regulations for terminating parental rights through court order or voluntary surrender. 

    Interpretation: Although processes and requirements regarding voluntary and involuntary termination will vary from state to state, parents should always be advised of their rights and options, and supported throughout the process. Concurrent planning should include counseling parents about relinquishment, as addressed in PA-CFS 14.03, and parents should receive education and support designed to help them understand their legal rights and cope with voluntary or involuntary termination, as addressed in PA-CFS 27.05. Children should also be helped to understand and cope with separation and loss, as addressed in PA-CFS 27.03.

    Note: The Indian Child Welfare Act includes provisions related to the termination of parental rights that apply to both public and private adoption proceedings.

    Research Note: When working with American Indian and Alaska Native children and families, consent to voluntarily terminate parental rights is not valid unless it complies with specific procedural requirements outlined in the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), including that the consent be executed in writing and recorded before a judge, and accompanied by a certificate authenticating that the terms and consequences of voluntary termination were fully explained and understood. Parents of American Indian or Alaska Native children should be informed of their right, under ICWA, to withdraw consent and the process and timeframes for doing so. It is also important to note that federal law permits American Indian and Alaska Native families to move forward with a customary adoption without terminating parental rights. 


  • PA-CFS 27.02

    An age-appropriate, culturally-responsive child study is conducted to assess children’s readiness for adoption or guardianship, and includes:

    1. attention to children’s interest in, and understanding of, adoption or guardianship;
    2. an evaluation of children’s ability to bond and develop relationships;
    3. history of maltreatment and prior placements;
    4. prenatal history and developmental screening of infants and young children;
    5. current medical and dental examinations; and
    6. a psychological evaluation, if needed.

    Interpretation: The child study will be an extension of the assessments conducted as per PA-CFS 7, 9, and 18.


  • PA-CFS 27.03

    Age-appropriate services that prepare children for adoption or transfer of custody include:

    1. counseling to help children understand and cope with separation, loss, and birth family loyalty issues;
    2. consideration of continued contact with birth parents, siblings, extended family, and tribe when one has been identified; 
    3. the development of lifebooks that describe children’s personal histories;
    4. discussion of changing roles and relationships; and
    5. when needed, opportunities to visit prospective adoptive parents or guardians, and preparation and support for such visits.

    Interpretation: Preparation will typically be provided at different stages, in a progressive manner, throughout the life of a case. 
     
    Interpretation:
    Generally, a lifebook is completed for young children, and older children are actively engaged in developing their lifebook.


  • FP
    PA-CFS 27.04

    Information is gathered and maintained for children’s future use, including:

    1. children’s medical and social histories;
    2. contact information for organizations, medical facilities, or others involved in services to birth parents and children;
    3. all available information about the medical and social histories of birth parents and their pregnancies;
    4. original copies of children’s birth certificates; and
    5. photographs or physical descriptions of birth parents.

    Update:

    • Added Interpretation - 10/31/17
      A new interpretation was added to address additional information that should be gathered and maintained for American Indian or Alaska Native adoptees. 

    Interpretation: Relevant information from foster care records should be obtained before records are sealed, and necessary consent forms must be obtained before information about birth parents is released. The agency may consider how appropriate and necessary it is to keep identifying information in a separate record, and should seek legal consultation regarding the maintenance of identifying information, as needed.
     
    Interpretation: When arranging a guardianship it may not be necessary to obtain the information described in elements (c) and (e) of the standard if birth parents will remain involved in their children’s lives.

    Interpretation: In the case of an American Indian or Alaska Native child, information gathered should also include the child’s Certified Degree of Indian Blood and tribal membership card. To protect an American Indian or Alaska Native child’s rights to tribal enrollment or membership, the agency, court, and private agency if applicable must also coordinate the preparation and maintenance of confidential records on all state Indian adoptions that include:

    1. a copy of the final adoption decree or order;
    2. the birth name and birthdate of the child, their tribal affiliation, and the name of the child after adoption;
    3. names and addresses of the birth parents;
    4. names and addresses of the adoptive parents;
    5. name and contact information for any agency having files or information related to the adoption;
    6. any affidavit signed by the biological parent(s) requesting confidential identity; and
    7. any information relating to tribal membership or eligibility of the adopted child.
    The Bureau of Indian Affairs is also authorized to receive and maintain these records, and to release them at the request of an American Indian or Alaska Native adoptee, their adoptive or foster parents, or an Indian tribe when the American Indian or Alaska Native child has reached age 18. 


  • FP
    PA-CFS 27.05

    Birth parents are prepared for termination of parental rights and adoption through services that include:

    1. education about their legal rights;
    2. education about the importance of permanency and stable homes;
    3. counseling and support to cope with voluntary or involuntary termination of parental rights, grief, separation, loss, and the lifelong implications of adoption;
    4. education on issues related to confidentiality, search, and reunion;
    5. information and counseling on the continuum of openness in adoption, when desired;
    6. discussion of changing roles and relationships when the birth parents will have an ongoing relationship with the adoptive family;
    7. planning for participation in the adoption process, when appropriate and desired; and
    8. planning for the immediate future and referral for needed services.

    Interpretation: As noted in PA-CFS 27.01, parents of American Indian and Alaska Native children should be informed of their right, under ICWA, to withdraw consent to voluntary termination and the process and timeframes for doing so.

    Interpretation: The continuum of openness in adoption can range from the provision of identifying information about the birth family at the time the adoption is arranged, to agency-mediated ongoing written communication, to frequent, in-person contact with birth family members. Counseling should help birth parents consider whether continued contact is in the best interest of the child, with whom the child might continue contact, and the type and frequency of contact. The agency should explain limitations on confidentiality and document in the case record the birth parents’ preferences regarding the disclosure of personal information.

    Research Note: While some early research on open adoption presented conflicting conclusions, more recent studies have demonstrated that most birth parents involved in open adoptions are satisfied with the arrangement.


  • FP
    PA-CFS 27.06

    Birth parents are prepared for transfer of custody and guardianship through services that include:

    1. education about their legal rights, including visitation/family time;
    2. education about the importance of permanency and stable homes;
    3. planning for participation in the legal process, when appropriate and desired;
    4. discussion of changing roles and relationships;
    5. discussion of plans for visitation/family time that are in the best interests of the children; and
    6. planning for the immediate future and referral for needed services.


  • PA-CFS 27.07

    Prospective adoptive parents are helped to understand:

    1. the lifelong process of adoption and its meaning, including the lifelong commitment they are making to the children being adopted;
    2. the process for completing an adoption;
    3. benefits and responsibilities of openness in adoption and the range of openness;
    4. the potential financial impact on the family, and the availability of adoption subsidies; and
    5. the availiability of post-adoption support services.

    Interpretation: This material may be covered in formal orientation sessions or in collaborative one-on-one work with prospective adoptive parents. Prospective adoptive parents who have adopted a child through the agency previously may only need a refresher orientation.
     
    Information about available support services should include a discussion of any services that will be lost once the adoption is finalized, as well as the availability of services in other states, tribes, or American Indian/Alaska Native organizations if the family plans on moving out of state in the future. When the agency facilitates adoptions by older caregivers, it should include information about the importance of providing permanency over time for the child. This can cover the need for additional support, circumstances that may adversely impact the adoptive parents’ ability to care for the child, and plans for the child if the adoptive parents are unable to provide care.

    Research Note: Literature suggests that prospective adoptive parents considering a special needs adoption may have concerns about the costs of providing services for the child, and these concerns can impact their decision to proceed with the adoption.


  • FP
    PA-CFS 27.08

    Prospective guardians are helped to understand:

    1. the importance of permanency and a stable home;
    2. the impact of guardianship on birth parent rights;
    3. the process for completing the transfer of custody;
    4. their responsibility to maintain a visitation/family time plan and supervise birth parent visitation/family time, as necessary;
    5. circumstances under which guardianship can be terminated or modified, including their right to petition the court;
    6. the potential financial impact on the family, the availability of guardianship subsidies, and the impact subsidies could have on receipt of federal, state, or tribal benefits; and
    7. the availability of support services following the transfer of custody.

    Interpretation: This material may be covered in formal orientation sessions or in collaborative one-on-one work with prospective guardians. Prospective guardians that have already assumed guardianship for another child through the program may only need a refresher orientation. Orientation should include attention to the caregiver’s capacity to provide permanency over time for the child. This can cover the need for additional support; circumstances that may adversely impact the guardian’s ability to care for the child, for example, age or presenting medical issues; and plans for the child if the guardian is unable to provide care, such as the establishment of a successor guardian. See PA-CFS 29.02 for more information on the establishment of a successor guardian.
     
    Interpretation: The prospective guardian should be fully informed of his or her right to petition the court to adopt the child at a later time and the impact this will have on birth parent rights. Guardians of American Indian and Alaska Native children should be informed of alternatives to adoption such as tribal customary adoption, which must be approved and adjudicated by the tribal court.
     
    Interpretation: A guardianship subsidy can be considered income and could impact a child’s eligibility for other benefits such as Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, or subsidized child care. The agency should be aware of the applicable regulations in the state and with local tribes.  Information about available support services should include a discussion of any services that will be lost once the transfer of custody is finalized, as well as the availability of services in other states, tribes, or American Indian/Alaska Native organizations if the family plans on moving out of state in the future.

    Research Note: Subsidized guardianship is the transfer of custody to a private caregiver or guardian who is provided with a monthly subsidy for the care and support of the child. Several states have begun using subsidized guardianship as a tool to expedite permanency for children who are in the child welfare system, and for whom reunification with birth parents or adoption are not viable options. There also can be similar funds available to American Indian/Alaska Native children through tribal monies; however, the number of tribes offering such subsidy is unknown. Workers should familiarize themselves with subsidies available to the children and families with whom they work. In states with no subsidized guardianship programs, or subsidy programs where the rate is lower than foster care, there is a disincentive to move to permanency given the perceived loss of financial resources to care for the child. States where the guardianship subsidy is equal to what the family received in foster care can more effectively achieve permanency through guardianship.


  • PA-CFS 27.09

    Prospective adoptive parents and guardians are provided with education, training, information, and support that address the following, as appropriate:

    1. attachment and bonding, including the importance of developing safe and nurturing relationships;
    2. possible impacts of adoption or guardianship on the family;
    3. changing roles and relationships, including sibling relationships;
    4. the importance of maintaining connections with a child’s family, community, or tribe, as appropriate;
    5. meeting children’s developmental needs across life domains, including special considerations for a child’s transition into adolescence;
    6. caring for a child with special needs;
    7. raising a child of a different race, ethnicity, culture, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity;
    8. helping a child cope with separation and loss, history of maltreatment, and identity development; and
    9. issues of independent living.

    Interpretation: This material may be covered in formal training sessions or in collaborative one-on-one work with prospective adoptive parents and guardians. Prospective adoptive parents or guardians that have already adopted or assumed guardianship for another child through the program may only need refresher training. To prevent disruption, the agency should provide in-person, individualized counseling and preparation as needed to prepare resource families to meet the special needs of the particular children joining their families. When a child is already living with a prospective guardian or adoptive family, the information provided should be adjusted accordingly.


  • PA-CFS 27.10

    When open adoptions are being planned, birth parents, prospective adoptive parents, and children, as appropriate, receive assistance and support to:

    1. develop positive relationships;
    2. develop and agree on plans for continued contact; and
    3. decide how to resolve conflicts that can arise, and agree on methods for renegotiating plans when necessary.

Copyright © 2017 Council on Accreditation. All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy and Terms of Use