Background

In 1992,  the Statewide Adoption Network, SWAN, initiative was established by the Department of Public Welfare, DPW, (now known as the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, DHS), Juvenile Court Judges Commission and county children and youth agencies to address barriers to the adoption of children served by county children and youth agencies.  The network is comprised of public and private child welfare agencies, adoption agencies, the legal community, parents, organizations and individuals working together on behalf of children.  The first SWAN contract was awarded to Cumberland County Children and Youth Services to fund the Pennsylvania Council of Children’s Services, which created a deliverable and payment management system. In 1995, the bid was awarded to Common Sense Adoption Services, which held the contract for 5 years. On July 1, 2000 the SWAN prime contract was awarded for the first time to Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries, in partnership with Family Design Resources (FDR). The SWAN contract was awarded to this same agency in 2005, 2010 and 2015.

Pennsylvania is a state supervised, county administered state; therefore, the children waiting to be adopted from our foster care system are in the custody of one of our 67 county children and youth agencies.  When a county agency is in need of services on behalf of a waiting child, they may make a referral to the SWAN prime contractor for the services they need.  The prime contractor then makes the request for those services from one of the affiliate agencies.  The affiliate adoption agencies work hand in hand with the county agencies to accomplish the work that needs to be done in order to facilitate the adoption. Over the past 24 years, this statewide adoption community has helped to facilitate more than 38,000 special needs adoptions in Pennsylvania

The SWAN Bulletin outlines the policies and procedures of the SWAN program and was revised in January 2003 to improve permanency standards and best practice for all of Pennsylvania’s waiting children and families.  The revised bulletin shifted the focus of the SWAN program from one of adoption only to permanency for children in the child welfare system.  SWAN serves children in the custody of a county children and youth agency who may or may not have a goal of adoption.

The revised bulletin also expanded the post-permanency unit of service and added a new service, Child Preparation.  SWAN provides post-permanency services to all Pennsylvania families who have adopted, whether or not they adopted a child through the child welfare system, as well as to those families who provide permanency to a child through kinship care or permanent legal custodianship.