A new report from The Texas Center for Child and Family Studies (The Center) and Partnerships for Children (PFC) seeks to improve the understanding of current adoption recruitment efforts underway in Texas, clarify the steps to recruiting adoptive families, identify barriers in current processes, and offer potential solutions to improve the system.
More than 1,200 youth age out of foster care never finding permanent placement through state adoption. From the report, “A stable and healthy family life is crucial to healthy child development and is associated with a variety of positive outcomes.” Children who age out of foster care face increased challenges in adulthood such as accessing and completing their education, securing meaningful employment, continuous struggles with physical and mental health issues, and involvement in the criminal justice system.
Heart Galleries, portrait exhibit and outreach opportunities featuring children waiting for adoption, are proven to increase the chances of permanent placement for a child in foster care. Alongside the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange (TARE), Texas’ photo, and profile site of children available for adoption, these Galleries represent a missed opportunity to provide more opportunities for exposure.
The Center and PFC with support from the Opt Institute performed a comprehensive review of data and information collected in multiple formats (such as interviews, process mapping, and regulatory review). In addition to clarifying a child’s road to adoption, the findings revealed six key issues:
Some Children Waiting for Adoption are not Registered on TARE
TARE is not fully Optimized to Recruit Adoptive Parents
Response to Inquiries from Prospective Adoptive Parents May be Delayed
Texas Heart Galleries are not Featuring all Children Registered on TARE
Innovative Methods are Used in Some Areas to Identify Prospective Adoptive Parents
Coordination and Performance Tracking Can Guide Successful Adoptive Parent Recruitment
These findings lead to seven opportunities for improvement that are mindful of the current and changing child welfare system:
Review TARE Registration Processes
Redesign the TARE Website
Review of the Inquiry Response System
Create a Statewide Heart Gallery Program
Expand Innovative Specialized Recruitment Events and Programs
Coordinate SSCC Activity with Statewide Recruitment
Track Data to Measure Recruitment Strategy Success
Investments and state focus toward these areas of improvement can assist in reducing the number of youth who age out of foster care with no permanent placement.