Recruitment Strategies

When working with PAE-registered youth, workers should take advantage of the Essential Recruitment Strategies document that was developed to help workers who are looking for permanency for their youth.  It is a great starting point to identify services for which a youth is eligible, with a variety of activities for workers to discuss with the county and the youth to help find permanency.  This is not an exhaustive list of recruitment strategies, but it can serve as a reference for workers, attorneys and judges and be included in case records. Workers are encouraged to creatively develop and employ additional strategies to recruit families.  More strategies are available to all SWAN eligible youth regardless of PAE registration.

Waiting Child

KDKA’s Waiting Child segment began in 1982 as a child-specific recruitment tool for children in the Pittsburgh area. A news anchor with CBS affiliate KDKA engages the featured child in an activity of their choice and films them doing what they do best:  being a kid. The segments are shown in conjunction with commercials from SWAN and Wendy’s®.  Families interested in adoption are encouraged to get more information by contacting the SWAN Helpline or going to

Val’s Kids

SWAN established Val’s Kids in 2000 to recruit more central Pennsylvania families for specific waiting children, often teenagers.  Children are taken to a favorite location (e.g., mall, sports arena, a local park, etc.) and are videotaped doing a fun activity.  A news anchor or reporter for WHTM ABC27, a Harrisburg affiliate, talks to the children and their caseworkers about their needs, interests, what they are looking for in a family and how long they have waited for permanency.  Information on how to ask about these waiting children can be found at and through the SWAN Helpline at 1-800-585-SWAN.

A Little Love

NBC affiliate WBRE-TV 28 aired the first segment of A Little Love in the Wilkes-Barre-Scranton area in 2007. A Little Love is the third waiting child segment funded through SWAN to help recruit families to adopt children in foster care and provide workers with an additional recruitment tool for the children with which they work. A Little Love focuses on the featured children’s desires and ambitions. The host works closely with the community and the children’s caseworkers to decide on an exciting activity or event for the children to participate in. The host also interviews and speaks with the children and their caseworkers to learn more about them and the kinds of families they are interested in. Families interested in adopting a child featured on A Little Love or who want to learn more about adoption are encouraged to contact the SWAN Helpline at 1-800-585-SWAN.

Electronic Matching

The SWAN Portal, released in 2013 and updated in 2016, significantly changed and improved the PAE matching process.  This system produces three scores for each child and family pairing:

  • Critical characteristics
  • Important characteristics
  • Demographics

Child demographics have proven to be critical in the matching process—typically the first item considered by families. No family will be matched with a child if the acceptable demographics are not present; families are not considered for a match with a child if the age, race, or gender of the child or siblings is not approved by the family. Nine items comprise the critical characteristics and 14 make up the important characteristics, as selected based on feedback from families and agencies.  Although more than 70 different pieces of information are collected about each family and child, the most variation is in these items. Read more about these in Understanding the Matching Algorithm. The primary focus is matching newly registered children with families who want matches.  Families can be matched with children whenever they request it, but families can also view all waiting children online at and ask for any additional child information by calling the SWAN Helpline.  SWAN county and affiliate agencies are responsible for removing children and families from PAE active status when they no longer need matching.  This is a vital step, as child and family caseworkers are frustrated to make contact only to find out the child or family no longer needs a resource. Specific questions about the electronic matching process should be referred to the PAE coordinator.

Customized Matching

From time to time, a child’s need is so severe or the matching request so specific that it is beyond the scope of the electronic matching process.  For children, these needs may fall into critical characteristics or they may be children who want to remain close to where they currently live because of family connections or school opportunities. In these cases, the PAE coordinators will take a very personalized approach in looking at their needs.  The child’s caseworker would contact the PAE coordinator and specify the need that must be met, and the PAE coordinator will search SWAN’s database of waiting families.  Matches are generated based on the age, race, and gender, and then any special requests by the child’s caseworker. These matches are requested by a child’s caseworker, and either the county or CSR worker can make the request to the PAE coordinator.  The PAE coordinator will clarify the desired match, run the match and send the results to the requestor.  The PAE coordinators will contact the family caseworker for all families in the match to ensure the family is still available and seeking to adopt.  The results of this type of match are not sent to the families, rather it is the responsibility of the requester to contact the family’s caseworker if they would like additional information about the family. The child’s worker is totally responsible for following up with any families generated by the match.

SWAN Connect

SWAN Connect (formally know as Pennsylvania’s Seamless System) is a collaborative effort of SWAN, PAE, county children and youth agencies and SWAN affiliate agencies to help build families by improving communication and bridging gaps between waiting children and waiting, approved adoptive families. SWAN Connect’s services are completely free!

How Does SWAN Connect Work?

  1. Approved adoptive families call the SWAN Helpline to ask about any child listed on or
  2. The approved adoptive family is given additional information about the child that is not on the Web site.
  3. PAE coordinators work directly with the child’s caseworker to get additional details about the child that are not available on their CY130 forms.
  4. That additional information about the child is then reviewed with the family.
  5. If a family remains interested in a particular child after being given that additional information, PAE will notify the child’s worker of the family’s interest.

Click here for the SWAN Connect brochure.

CSR Recipes for Permanency

The Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN), through the efforts of the Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange (PAE) coordinators, collected 19 “recipes” for common strategies and session activities to use when completing the Child Specific Recruitment unit of service. The information presented in the CSR Recipes for Permanency is laid out in a clear, step-by-step manner and will prove to be beneficial for county and SWAN affiliate agencies in the development of CSR plans.

Click here to view the CSR Recipes for Permanency document.