Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Child and Family Services (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. 
 
 
2020 Edition

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Purpose

Child and Family Services promote child and family well-being, protect children’s safety, stablilize and strengthen families, and ensure permanency.
Examples: It may be appropriate to include extended family members in preparatory services if their involvement is appropriate.
 
1
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the agency's practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  
  • All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions; exceptions do not impact service quality or agency performance. 
2
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance
A rating of (2) indicates that an agency's infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement. 
  • The majority of the standards requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented.  
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality or agency performance.  
3
Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that the agency's observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement.  
  • The agency has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework.   
  • Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner. 
  • Service quality or agency functioning may be compromised.   
  • Capacity is at a basic level.
4
Unsatisfactory Implementation or Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all.  
  • The agency’s observed service delivery infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.  
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Procedures for conducting child study
  • Procedures for preparing children and birth parents for adoption/guardianship
  • Table of contents for orientation/training curricula for prospective adoptive parents and guardians, if applicable
  • Procedures for maintaining continued contact with relatives/others
  • Informational materials provided to children
  • Informational materials provided to birth parents
  • Informational materials provided to prospective adoptive parents and guardians
  • Orientation/training curricula for prospective adoptive parents and guardians, if applicable

 

  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Parents served
    4. Children served
    5. Resource parents
  • Review case records
  • Review resource parent records

PA-CFS 27.01

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 understanding of, and interest in, adoption or guardianship;
  2. an evaluation of children’s ability to bond and develop relationships;
  3. history of maltreatment and all prior placements;
  4. assessment of trauma and history and status of care provided to address trauma;
  5. prenatal history and developmental screening of infants and young children;
  6. current medical and dental examinations, available medical and dental records, and medical and dental history including any significant illnesses, injuries, diagnoses, hospitalizations, and any special needs;
  7. a current psychological evaluation, if needed; and
  8. history of the child’s education.


 

Interpretation

The child study will be an extension of the assessments conducted as per PA-CFS 6, 8, and 17.

PA-CFS 27.02

Age-appropriate services that prepare children for adoption or guardianship include: 
  1. information to help children understand the meaning, process, and impact of adoption or guardianship;
  2. counseling to help children understand and cope with fear, separation, loss, and birth family loyalty issues;
  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.
Examples: While older children may be actively engaged in developing their own lifebook, young children may have a lifebook created for them. 
 

PA-CFS 27.03

Information is gathered and maintained for children’s future use, including: 
  1. children’s medical records and information;
  2. children’s social histories;
  3. contact information for organizations, medical professionals or facilities, or others involved in services to birth parents and children;
  4. all available information about the medical and social histories of birth parents and their pregnancies;
  5. original copies of children’s birth certificates; 
  6. educational records;
  7. information about the children’s grandparents and siblings; 
  8. photographs and/or videos of children; and
  9. photographs, videos, and/or physical descriptions of birth parents.


 

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 should consider whether it is appropriate and necessary 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 (i) 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. 

Fundamental Practice

PA-CFS 27.04

Birth parents are prepared for adoption through services that include: 
  1. counseling and support on grief, separation, and loss;
  2. education on issues related to search and reunion;
  3. planning for participation in the adoption process, when appropriate and desired; and
  4. planning for the immediate future, including identification of friends and family who can provide support and referral for needed services.

Fundamental Practice

PA-CFS 27.05

Birth parents are prepared for guardianship through services that include: 
  1. education about their legal rights, including 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 family time that are in the best interests of the children; and
  6. planning for the immediate future, including identification of friends and family who can provide support and referral for needed services.

PA-CFS 27.06

Prospective adoptive parents are helped to understand: 
  1. the lifelong impact of adoption, including the lifelong commitment they are making to the children being adopted, with attention to the caregiver’s capacity to provide permanency over time;
  2. the process for completing an adoption and any significant provisions of law or regulation;
  3. the potential financial impact on the family, and the availability of adoption subsidies and financial support; 
  4. the availability of post-adoption support services, including services in other states, tribes, or American Indian/Alaska Native organizations, if the family plans on moving out of state in the future; and
  5. any services that will be lost once the adoption is finalized.

 
NA The agency does not provide adoption services.
Examples: 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. 
 

PA-CFS 27.07

Prospective guardians are helped to understand: 
  1. the importance of permanency and a stable home, with attention to the caregiver’s capacity to provide permanency over time, and plans for establishing a successor guardian, if needed;
  2. the impact of guardianship on birth parent rights;
  3. the process for completing the transfer of custody;
  4. their responsibility to maintain a family time plan and supervise birth parent family time, as necessary;
  5. circumstances under which guardianship can be terminated or modified, including their right to petition the court to adopt the child at a later time and the impact this will have on birth parent rights;
  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; 
  7. the availability of support services following the transfer of custody, including services in other states, tribes, or American Indian/Alaska Native organizations if the family plans on moving out of state in the future; and
  8. any services that will be lost once the transfer of custody is finalized.



 

Interpretation

Regarding element (e), 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. 
Examples: 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.  

PA-CFS 27.08

Prospective adoptive parents and guardians are provided with education, training, information, and support that address the following, as appropriate: 
  1. separation, grief, and loss;
  2. attachment and bonding, including strategies for supporting safe and nurturing relationships;
  3. changing roles and relationships, including sibling relationships;
  4. supporting a child’s identity development;
  5. the importance of maintaining connections with a child’s family, community, or tribe, as appropriate;
  6. meeting children’s developmental needs across life domains, including special considerations for a child’s transition into adolescence;
  7. caring for a child with special needs;
  8. raising a child of a different race, ethnicity, culture, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity;
  9. helping a child cope with the history and impact of maltreatment and living in out-of-home care; 
  10. recognizing signs of unknown or undisclosed abuse, effective strategies to support safe disclosure, and reporting abuse allegations to appropriate authorities;
  11. strategies for maintaining safety when there is a history of sexual abuse, trafficking, self-harm, or other unsafe behavior; and
  12.  issues of independent living.


 
Examples: 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. Providing in-person, individualized counseling and preparation as needed can help prepare resource families to meet the special needs of the particular children joining their families, and thereby prevent disruption. When a child is already living with a prospective guardian or adoptive family, the information provided may be adjusted accordingly.

PA-CFS 27.09

When adoptions are being planned, the parties to the adoption are offered counseling, assistance, and support to: 
  1. consider whether connections should be maintained between the child and the birth parents, siblings, relatives, or others with whom the child has a connection; and
  2. develop plans for exchanging information, continuing contact, and resolving conflicts, when connections will be maintained. 



 

Interpretation

Most birth parents making a voluntary plan for adoption have an interest in some level of maintaining connections.  Even in cases where parental rights are involuntarily terminated, there may be situations where ongoing connection with a sibling, birth parent, relative, or other individuals with a significant connection to the child can be beneficial for the child’s growth and development and the stability of the placement. The program should explain limitations on confidentiality and enforcement of agreements and document in the case record expressed preferences and concerns.  Documentation of the assessment of the appropriateness of maintaining connections in the record will be sufficient evidence of implementation in cases where there are no plans for maintaining connections.  


 
NA The agency does not provide adoption services.
Examples: Counseling can help the parties consider whether continued contact is in the best interest of the child and others involved in both the immediate and long term future. Planning can include identification of individuals the child might continue to contact, and the type and frequency of contact.  Examples of ways to maintain contact include, but are not limited to: 
  1. agency-mediated written communication,
  2. occasional contact with birth parents or other relatives, and/or
  3. frequent in-person contact with birth family members.