The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Massachusetts Survey of Kinship, Foster, & and Adoption Placements

According to the Federal Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), over half of the children in foster care have experienced some form of early adversity.  Supporting favorable outcomes for these children in the emotional and academic domains has received increased research focus (Healey & Fisher, 2011; McDermott et al., 2012), however, paradoxical patterns of stable or greater developmental, educational, and emotional needs have been noted among children adopted out of foster care (Zill & Bramlet, 2014).  To further understand the range of child needs, as well as services desired, barriers to accessing services, and priorities for advocacy efforts, we designed the Massachusetts Survey of Kinship, Foster, and Adoption Placements.  The overall aims of the study were to:

  • Compare needs and desired services among children in and adopted from foster care
  • Identify high-priority areas of advocacy efforts for these children and their families
  • Determine whether child gender influences the needs and services among these families.

Overall, the results of the survey underscored greater developmental, emotional, and educational needs reported among children adopted from foster care compared to children who were currently in foster care.  Such patterns suggest under-identification of those needs in foster care children, which may hinder the potential effectiveness of early interventions.

The study also provided insights regarding critical next steps to giving adequate support to families who have adopted children from foster care.  Primary among those steps were: 1) helping families find more direct access to services for their children, 2) strengthening crisis intervention services, and 3) increasing adoption/foster care training for professionals, educators, and parents.

Moreover, specific needs and advocacy effort also varied by child gender, with parents of girls adopted from foster care indicating particularly strong needs in education services and parents of boys adopted from foster care calling for increased family support services.  Combined, these results emphasize the importance of considering child gender when designing service and training programs.

Below is a list of support services and helpful resources.

 

Resources in Massachusetts

Adoption Journeys

Berkshire Children and Families (Hadley & Pittsfield, MA)

Department of Children and Families

ServiceNet Inc. (Northampton, MA)

  • Enhance the quality of life of adults, children and families, through the provision of effective and responsive clinicalm residential, rehabilitative, recovery and support services. 

  • http://www.servicenet.org/

  • Email: info@servicenet.org

  • Phone: (413)-585-1300

Treehouse Community (Easthampton, MA)

  • Intergenerational, planned community for kinship, guardianship and adoptive families who provide permanency to children who have experienced foster care and elders who wish to be "extended family members"

  • http://www.refca.net

  • Director: Judy Cockerton

  • Email: contribute@treehousecommunities.org

  • Phone: (413) 527-7966

 

National Resources and Institutes

AdoptUSKids 

  • Raises public awareness about the need for foster and adoptive families for children in the public child welfare system; and to assist U.S. States, Territories and Tribes to recruit and retain foster and adoptive families and connect them with children 

  • http://www.adoptuskids.org/

  • Email: info@adoptuskids.org

  • Phone: (888)-200-4005

Child Welfare Information Gateway 

Donaldson Adoption Institute 

  • Helps provide leadership that improves adoption laws, policies and practices in order to better the lives of everyone touched by adoption

  • http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/index.php

  • Email: info@adoptioninstitute.org

  • Phone: (617)-332-8944

National Child Welfare Resource Center for Adoption 

  • Helpful information on current child welfare adoption topics as well as updated tools, resources, and web media

  • http://www.nrcadoption.org

  • Phone: (248)-443-0306

North American Council on Adoptable Children 

  • Promotes and supports permanent families for children and youth in the U.S. and Canada who have been in care—especially those in foster care and those with special needs

  • http://www.nacac.org/National Council for Adoption

  • Email: info@nacac.org

  • Phone: (651)-644-3036

Adoptive Families Magazine

  • The award-winning national adoption magazine, the leading adoption information source for families before, during, and after adoption

  • http://www.adoptivefamilies.com/

  • Email: letters@adoptivefamilies.com

  • Phone: (646)-366-0830

Early Growth and Development Project

  • A nationwide, prospective study of birth parents and adoptive families aimed at investigating how families can help their children develop to their fullest potential

  • https://www.egdstudy.org/index.html

  • Director: Anna Suski

  • Email: annas@oslc.org

  • Phone: 1-866-203-5165