The role of SWAN is to address and eliminate barriers that slow permanency for children and to respond to the increased number of children who need adoption services. To achieve this mission we adhere to a model of public and private collaboration for adoption services in a statewide program that provides safety and permanency for children.
Every child in foster care deserves to achieve permanency in a timely manner.
Many children who are in need of a permanent family resource may be in out-of-home care for three or more years before they find a permanent resource—if any is found. As soon as a child enters the foster care system, every child is eligible to receive SWAN services regardless of their placement goal. These services are designed to assist both the public child welfare agency and the child to move through out-of-home placement as quickly as possible. When services to prepare a child for permanency are requested right away, a child or youth can move more efficiently through placement.
Every child with a goal of adoption deserves a permanent family.
No child should languish in the foster care system and “age out” of the system without any permanent connections. Children need families to care for them and advocate for their needs. SWAN funds services and family training to agencies that complete family profiles. SWAN recommends that families receive 24 hours of family preparation training.
The Older Child Matching Initiative program focuses on connecting youth to families. Agencies that participate commit to trying unconventional ways to find families for older children who are in need of permanency. SWAN’s Child Specific Recruitment unit of service is also geared towards finding resources for older children and supports enhanced family finding efforts focused on kinship care resources.
County agencies must be supported to prioritize and provide permanency services.
Diakon/FDR works diligently to train and consult with public and private agencies. Technical assistants work closely with public and private agency staff to identify and address needs through agency site visits, regional meetings and many supportive phone calls and emails. Online interactive training resources are available to all members of the SWAN network to enhance the expertise needed to deliver SWAN services. Almost all counties in Pennsylvania now have at least one Legal Service Initiative paralegal to assist with legal paperwork, legal protocol and policy review. Their work helps to assure that all legal steps are followed as a child moves through care and works to minimize a child’s time in care.
Delays in achieving permanency must not be due to race, culture, age, geography, level of ability or case priority level.
The Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange, PAE, actively recruits minority families to serve as foster and permanency resources. As a child’s age can also adversely affect his or her ability to find permanency, the PAE staff, in collaboration with OCYF, implements a variety of strategies to help find permanent relationships for both older and minority children.
Permanent families must be developed for every waiting child.
All potential adoptive and kinship families can access SWAN services. Recruitment activities focus on identifying potential families who are interested in providing permanency for children. SWAN Helpline services are available to families with questions along the journey to become a permanent resource family and help resource families resolve issues or concerns.
Resource families who step forward to provide a continuum of care to children in the child welfare system must be supported to remain intact.
Parents who become adoptive, legal custodian or formal kinship parents may receive post-permanency services through SWAN if they choose. The services are case assessment and advocacy, support group and respite. SWAN also maintains the Resource Family Registry, RFR, for all who wish to be foster, adoptive or kinship parents. While registered parents are not required to participate in SWAN services and training activities, these services are available to them.