What support comes with adopting in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, there are more children and youths with special needs waiting to be adopted than children adopted through traditional programs. Yet the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a lot of support in place, from financial assistance to continuing advocacy and counseling to help make these adoptions not only feasible but also extremely rewarding. 

In addition to its direct service, Diakon manages Pennsylvania’s Statewide Adoption & Permanency Network (SWAN), a network of robust support from the many groups and individuals involved in foster care and adoption.

How does SWAN help foster and adoptive parents?

SWAN is a partnership among the Department of Human Services, the Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange, public and private adoption agencies, organizations, advocates, case managers, the legal community and foster and adoptive parents.

This network assists families who want to adopt a children with special needs, who are not only those with medical needs but can also be sibling groups, children with emotional needs and older children.

Financial support …

In Pennsylvania, most of the costs for adopting a child are covered if the adoption involves a child or youth considered to have special needs. Additionally, those who adopt a child with special needs are also eligible for a tax credit for qualified adoption expenses.

Contact us to learn more.

Recruitment and Family Development Specialist support

In addition to a comprehensive initial training program, Diakon assigns a family development specialist to each potential adoptive family to offer resources and guidance throughout the adoption process. These specialists provide support and help families understand and navigate the social service system. They help assess the needs of the child and his or her eligibility for services and assess the potential of parents to qualify for adoption.

Case Manager | Advocate support

A case manager helps the child and the adoptive parent(s) through the entire adoption journey. 

This advocacy and support do not end when an adoption is finalized. Diakon also offers several post-permanency services. These services are free.

Advocacy helps connect the children and their adoptive parents with community and professional services (read Every Child Deserves an Advocate).

Support from other parents of children with special needs

Peer support can be vital to successful adoption, especially for families who have children with special needs. Diakon helps facilitate networking among these parents, including the creation of secure and private Facebook groups. We also have traditional support groups, a book group for parents, and periodic social activities for our families. These communities of parents of children with special needs rely on one another for emotional support as well as helpful insights and advocacy awareness.

Additionally, Diakon helps families connect through summer camps, extracurricular activities and involvement in community programs.

Support for parents of adopted older youths 

We offer CORE—or Critical Ongoing Resource Family Education—an evidence-based program to support the parenting of older youths. Workshops help prepare parents of adopted older youths for all stages of the process, including before, during and after placement including post-permanency support.  

CORE is specifically designed for families who support older youths. The program was developed by Spaulding for Children, in partnership with the ChildTrauma Academy, the Center for Adoption Support and Education, the North American Council on Adoptable Children and the University of Washington.

Through self-assessment, classroom instruction, and right time training, resource parents gain skills necessary to meet the needs of youths in their home with “real-life” tips.

Respite help for parents of children with special needs

As part of Diakon’s post-permanency services, up to 48 hours of respite care is offered to families who need a break from the challenges associated with adoption. The family support network also provides respite in the form of group summer camps and extracurricular activities.

We welcome you to learn more about Diakon’s adoption and foster care services for children with special needs. We’re here to help you form your family while giving a child stability, permanence and love. 

Casandra Dry, Manager of Family Recruitment
Diakon Adoption & Foster Care