The Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN) is a partnership among the Department of Human Services (DHS), the Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange, public and private adoption agencies, organizations, advocates, judges, the legal community and foster and adoptive parents. The network is administered by DHS through a prime contractor. As the mission statement reflects, the purpose is to build a better collaborative adoption process in Pennsylvania.
The permanency department was established to support SWAN and Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries, in partnership with Family Design Resources, to provide services and support to Western Pennsylvania’s children and families.
The goal of the department is to help find a permanent, supportive family for every child, with an expertise in kinship families. Children who are waiting in care are experiencing unresolved grief, as well as the loss of sibling relationships and the opportunity for permanent family relationships. Losing their sense of security leads to attachment difficulties and the erosion of their feelings of worth and, ultimately, their self-esteem. Permanent, prepared families provide a healing process for those children who have been abused, neglected and/or been living long-term in out-of-home care within the child welfare system.
Therefore, it is vital that permanency be achieved, with definitive results, as quickly as possible for these children.
The responsibility of ASCI’s permanency department is to address barriers to permanency for children and respond to the increased number of children needing adoption services, through a model of public and private collaboration in a statewide program that provides safety and permanency.
This is done by managing referrals from county children and youth agencies, providing direct services to children and families, providing consultation and training and managing support services for families.
The services we offer include, but are not limited to:
- Child preparation
- Child profile
- Family Profile
- Post-permanency advocacy and case management
- Support group
Child profiles are comprehensive summaries of a child’s life history. It provides detail from the child’s birth up to current history including medical information, placement history, birth family information, education and current permanency goal. Child profiles are referred for children who have been in care for six months or longer and are available to youth after they turn 18. This is a 90-day service.
A family profile, which is also referred to as a home study, is completed once a family has been identified as a permanency resource either through PLC (permanent legal custodianship) or adoption. A comprehensive history of the family is gathered and includes family history, employment history, background checks, character references and information explaining why the family wants to pursue permanency. This is a 120-day service.
Adoption finalization services are utilized by families who are in the last step of the adoption process. This service monitors the adoptive family and child until the adoption is finalized. The permanency worker completes monthly home visits and ensures that the adoption attorney is selected and has all necessary documents. This service lasts up to six months but can be shorter or longer depending on the finalization date.
Child preparation services help the child process reasons that may have led to their placement in foster or kinship care and allows them to gather some of their family history, have their questions answered and gain closure in some areas of their lives. This service can be referred multiple times, lasts six months and each child ends up receiving a lifebook.
Post-permanency services are offered to Pennsylvania families to ensure they are provided the support they need for the long term to encourage a positive lifelong experience for both adoption and foster care programs. This service is offered to all families who have adopted or who have provided permanent legal custodianship to any child, regardless if they have adopted from the child welfare system or through private agencies. Three services offered to post-permanency families include respite, case advocacy and support groups. Families self-refer by calling the SWAN Hotline at 1-800-585-7926.
Permanency Support Group
Structured group meetings occur on a regular basis for families currently tracked under the umbrella of permanency and/or families seeking post-permanency intervention.
The support group aims to:
- Address the barriers to permanency;
- Advocate on behalf of our constituency;
- Build relationships among other parents and children;
- Empower individuals and families through coaching, training and problem-solving skill development;
- Form a community of support and mentoring among families;
- Offer opportunities for socialization and recreational activities among families;
- Provide a safe space for caregivers to share their issues and concerns;
- Provide information and educational materials relevant to families;
- Utilize professionals and paraprofessionals for group leadership and childcare.