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care. Statewide, 6% of all foster care children had an adoption disruption and less than ½% had an adoption dissolution in 20097. The high rate of adoption difficulties in our sample confirms the serious and extreme nature of the cases identified as cold. Adoption disruptions may be under-reported in our study as some case files contained little to no information about the nature of placements and whether they were pre-adoptive in nature. The most common reason for adoption dissolution (69%) was the behavior of the child; one third of dissolutions were due to the actions of the adoptive guardian and their inability to continue caring for the children, or allegations of abuse against the guardian.

One adoption dissolution involved an elderly woman who retuned her adopted children because “DFCS did not provide her with the services she required” to care for their needs. She also asserted that DFCS failed to inform her that one of the adopted children had a traumatic brain injury which caused him to be highly sexualized, resulting in her adoptive son molesting her grandchild. Another family brought the children they adopted from another state to DFCS saying they were afraid. The parents claimed that they were not informed about the extent of the children’s mental health problems. The children had tried to poison the mother, killed the family cat, and engaged in sex acts with each other.

Table 12. Types of Services Received* The high rate of special needs and disabilities was addressed by DFCS, as 88% of the children were receiving some type of service. Three-fourths (76%) of the children were receiving multiple services. The most common services involved psychological and psychiatric treatment, as illustrated in Table 12. “Other” services involved anger management, substance abuse education and treatment, independent and special education, family therapy, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and dental work. Number of Children 163 116 81 57 50 35 27 Psychological counseling Psychiatric treatment Independent living services Medical treatment Other services Tutoring Learning disability counseling As foster children reach the age of 14, they are eligible for Independent Living Program (ILP) services. The mission of the Independent Living Program (ILP) is to provide eligible youth aged 14-17 with opportunities to successfully prepare for adulthood through the use of appropriate resources and connections to community partners8. The specific ILP services provided to each child are determined through the use of the Ansell-Casey Life Skills Assessment. Services include: education, employment, housing support, life skills, legal documentation, supportive relationships and cultural identity. Of the 125 eligible children, half (54%) were receiving some type of ILP services. * children can receive multiple services

ILP services and other benefits can continue for foster children until the age of 25, if they choose to remain in DFCS care past the age of 18. During case reviews Fellows noted the way children were educated about the benefits of remaining in care beyond age 18 seemed to vary widely between counties. While one best practice noted was a standard ILP interview done by one regional manager for all children turning 14 in that region to make sure the child fully understood the ILP program and benefits, no state standard emerged for how and when this education process took place. Some case managers advised that DFCS maintains the right to refuse such a practice, with a child’s behavior as one possible reason for a denial of services.

June 2010

Percent

76% 54% 38% 27% 23% 16% 13%

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