In fiscal year 2003, the Children’s Bureau awarded more than $7 million in discretionary grants and cooperative agreements to support demonstration activities related to adoption. One grant cluster focused on the recruitment and training of families in rural communities to adopt children in out-of-home placements.
The 10 projects funded as part of the cluster ranged in scope from a few rural counties to multi-state initiatives. Although originally scheduled to end on September 30, 2008, half of the projects continued to operate under no-cost extensions for periods ranging from 3 to 12 months. This report synthesizes information from evaluation reports submitted by all grantees.
Key Evaluation Outcomes
- Grantees experienced modest success overall increasing the supply of adoptive/resource families and the number of adoptions in rural communities. Most projects embraced a wider definition of permanency that included other permanency outcomes such as legal guardianship and placements with relatives or kin.
- The number of inquiries regarding adoption/foster care varied from site to site depending on factors such as the specific focus of each initiative and its geographic scope. Most grantees reported well under 1,000 inquiries throughout the duration of their projects, although one grantee reported more than 5,500 inquiries.
- Six grantees provided data on families that participated in preadoption/licensure training, with the number of participants ranging from 43 to well over 300 families. In general, relatively small proportions of families that inquired about being becoming resource families actually advanced as far as the training stage.
- The number of approved licenses/home studies varied from 16 to 176; the number of approved families was generally much smaller than the number of families that participated in training.
- Some projects appeared to have more success recruiting potential resource families than would be expected based on communities’ size or population density. As such, success recruiting potential resource families may be more tied to the design, diversity, or intensity of outreach and marketing activities.
- Almost all grantees reported findings on adoptive and other permanent placements that occurred directly or in part as a result of project activities, with the number of such placements varying widely from 8 to 269. Among grantees reporting data on adoption finalizations, fewer than 10 adoptions were documented in most cases (between 3 percent and 50 percent of all documented placements).
- Children who were eventually placed and/or adopted in targeted rural communities often did not come from these communities originally. As a result, evaluators could not estimate the proportion of the target communities’ foster care populations that were placed and/or adopted.