In Pennsylvania, the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network, SWAN, is a partnership established to build a better collaborative adoption process and includes the Department of Human Services, DHS; the Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange, PAE, 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. The DHS’s Office of Children Youth and Families is responsible for the oversight and funding for SWAN. DHS prepares and issues policies and procedures that direct the operation of the SWAN program.
The SWAN bulletin specifies who is eligible for SWAN services, describes what services are provided and identifies the responsibilities of those who refer or provide SWAN services. The current prime contactor, Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries, in partnership with Family Design Resources, manages the referrals, invoicing and programming of the SWAN network. SWAN regional technical assistants, LSI staff and programming staff are assigned to every county and affiliate agency. The prime contractor subcontracts with foster and adoption agencies, known as affiliates, to provide the SWAN services. The prime contractor monitors the quality of services the affiliates deliver through a technical assistant and works with county children and youth agencies to understand how to use the SWAN program on behalf of the children in their care. The prime contractor also identifies barriers to permanency, creates solutions and encourages implementation of solutions within the child welfare system. SWAN serves children who are in the legal custody of the county children and youth agency as well as those in need of post-permanency services who are no longer in legal custody of the county children and youth agency. SWAN also serves Pennsylvania families providing permanency to a child as an adoptive parent, permanent legal custodian or formal kinship care. The design of the network is to support the work of county agencies in expediting permanency services.
Adoption practices in America continue to change and develop to meet the needs of waiting children domestically and internationally, from infants to older youth, of various races, cultural backgrounds and with special medical or emotional needs. We are operating in a system of adoption where the needs of the child should be considered first and foremost. There are many different types of adoptions, many different children in need of families and many different types of adoptive or potential adoptive parents in the U.S. As a nation we continue to strive to build healthy families who can support our nation’s children permanently. In the U.S. today, adoptive families are needed for approximately 102,000 children waiting in foster care.