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AMAZING IS POSSIBLEStatewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN) Services

Guidance through every step of the journey towards permanency

The Children’s Institute’s Family Support Services team (formerly known as Project STAR), as an affiliate of the Pennsylvania State Wide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN), helps families address barriers to permanency for children and respond to the increased numbers of children needing adoption services. Our experienced and compassionate team is committed to improving permanency outcomes for children and youth in foster care.

With over a decade of experience as a SWAN affiliate, we provide an array of individualized, trauma-informed permanency services to both children in the child welfare system and the families who care for them, including:
  • Child Profile
  • Child Preparation 
  • Child Specific Recruitment
  • Family Profile
  • Placement
  • Post-Adoption Contact Agreement (PACA)
  • Finalization
  • Post-Permanency Services
  • Older Child Matching Initiative (OCMI)

Experience and expertise

A child profile is a comprehensive written review of a child's social, medical, educational, and non-identifying birth family history. While a typical record for a child in the child welfare system is very large, a child profile provides a summary, conveying the essence of the child and emphasizing their strengths. Child profiles are used in several ways, including:
  • To share with potential foster/adoptive families 
  • To provide medical and social history required for adoption
  • To share with youth in Independent Living (IL) programs who may lack an accurate account of their own history
Child preparation is intense preparation to help children work through the difficulties that can become barriers for them in their transition from foster care to permanent home. To support this process, our skilled staff use techniques such as the life book, timelines, genograms, and other age-appropriate activities. Through a written plan, the caseworker addresses five goals: 
  • To give the child a voice
  • To honor the child's past
  • To answer the child’s questions
  • To create connections
  • To look to the future
Child specific recruitment (CSR) is a service for children in out-of-home placements without an identified pre-adoptive family. Our CSR efforts promote awareness of a specific child in hopes of finding that child an adoptive family. These services may include a wide array of planned activities, for example:
  • A child’s information may be included on our matching board
  • A child’s flyer may be distributed at matching events 
  • A child may participate in a televised “Waiting Child” segment
The family profile is completed to include various options of families who are providing permanency to children. These include foster, kinship, Permanent Legal Custodianship (PLC), and adoptive families. The family profile provides a format for consistent presentation of information on the family. It can be used both in the certification process for foster families and the selection of families to provide permanency for youth. Other components of the family profile are informational sessions, training, and the home study process. The home study process aids in creating the family profile through extensive interview, obtaining clearances, personal references, and a comprehensive review and documentation of relevant information.
Placement services are referred when a child is placed into a resource or adoptive home for the purpose of creating a permanent home for the child. Placement services include all pre-placement activities required to get the child in an identified home. Placement shall have been determined to occur when the child is moved, a formal placement agreement is in place, and a report of intent has been filed with the appropriate court (SWAN bulletin 2003, form revised 6-2010).
A PACA is a written, voluntary agreement, approved by the court, between an adoptive parent and a birth relative. This agreement allows for continuing contact or communication between the child(ren) and the birth relative, or between the adoptive parent and the birth relative. This contact could include minimal contact (i.e. birthday card once a year) or more regular and in-person contact, depending on what is in the best interest of the child(ren). A certified mediator guides the parties through this process and works with the parties to create the best outcome for the child(ren).
Our finalization services help prepare families for adoption. Our team educates the family answering all their questions on the adoption process, addressing the required paperwork, subsidies, Act 101 requirements, and more.  
Adoption is not a one-time event — it's a lifelong relationship. That’s why The Children’s Institute offers services designed to make the family stronger, through the adoption process and beyond. Funded through SWAN, these services are available for all adoptive families, permanent legal custodians, and fit and willing relatives:
  • Case assessment and advocacy: a permanency specialist may attend meetings and hearings acting as an advocate for the family and child
  • Respite: provides families with planned periods of respite to maintain a consistent level of parenting and enhance permanency  
  • Support Group: enables families to meet and discuss issues and resources with other adoptive families
OCMI is designed to find “forever” families for older youth who are in danger of aging out of the system. These young people are at risk of never having their own family and the permanency all children deserve. OCMI uses a child-centered approach to find resources for these children before they transition into adulthood. Our robust team of professionals, gifted at thinking “outside-of-the-box,” works diligently with the county, families, children, and other stakeholders to find the best outcomes for the youth we serve.

Getting Started

All SWAN services are county-referred, with the exception of post-permanency services. Families interested in post-permanency services through The Children’s Institute must first call the SWAN Helpline at 1.800.585.7926. When speaking with a SWAN representative, identify The Children’s Institute as your preferred provider. After receiving a referral from SWAN, one of our team members will contact you. Families interested in other units of SWAN service should speak with their assigned county worker. 

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Not sure what the next step is? You can always call our Information Center at 412.420.2400 to speak to a team member who can direct you to the support and answers you need.

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