The toll-free SWAN Helpline, 1-800-585-7926, began in 1996 to respond to inquiries about adoption. Today, the SWAN Helpline is a central pathway for SWAN’s outreach efforts to families, often serving as the first point of contact for inquiring parents and potential adoptive and foster families. The SWAN Helpline averages 257 calls per week, with higher volumes during media campaigns. Calls are fielded by a team of information and permanency referral specialists. In addition to answering incoming calls, the specialists also make follow-up calls to families who have requested additional support in the permanency process, provide callers with informational SWAN Family Packets and make referrals to other agencies. They make reminder calls to families about upcoming matching events and follow-up with them after the events.
The SWAN Helpline also serves as the sole point of entry for permanent families looking for post-permanency services as outlined in the Office of Children Youth and Families Bulletin. Helpline staff has access to a wide variety of materials and information on everything from community resources to information about medical conditions and special needs challenges. They can also offer information on respite, support group and case assessment and provide referrals to DHS approved post-permanency service providers.
SWAN Helpline completes requests for Post-permanency Case Assessment over the phone. Helpline explains to the family about the three services available, support group, case advocacy and respite services. Staff can put families in contact with agencies that service their county, and if the family does not know which affiliate to use, Helpline may suggest a counselor or other professional to suggest an agency. Helpline staff may tell the family the names of some of the agencies they have heard positive feedback on. Helpline submits the referral through the SWAN portal while emailing a narrative to the post-permanency contact person at the affiliate agency. Helpline receives over 100 post-permanency calls each month.
Role and Purpose of Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange, PAE, and Helpline in Pennsylvania’s SWAN Connect
Children in need of permanency through adoption are the primary focus of PAE. These waiting children are tracked and managed with Pennsylvania’s Child Registration/Update Form (CY130). PAE monitors and keeps in touch with families who do foster care and adoption through the Resource Family Registry.
PAE’s staff is comprised of data analysts who review and enter the information about both children and families and PAE coordinators who work closely with the children’s county caseworkers and child specific recruitment, CSR, workers. Data analysts assure that all information provided is consistent with legislation and in an approved format. PAE coordinators closely track all children with a goal of adoption who do not have an adoptive resource. They work with the child’s caseworker to maximize all recruitment efforts. PAE coordinators essentially act as a consultant to the caseworker as they attempt to achieve permanency for children. Approximately 70% of children without a resource who are registered with PAE do ultimately achieve permanency.
In SWAN Connect, approved families who would like to learn more about a waiting child first contact the SWAN Helpline and may receive more detailed information about a child who is posted to the www.adoptpakids.org website. The services of Pennsylvania’s SWAN Connect are FREE. Download SWAN Connect brochure
Helpline responds to over 100 requests each month from out of state families who learn about PA children via the Adopt Us Kids website, www.adoptuskids.org. SWAN Connect protocols are followed as closely as possible for out of state families inquiring about PA children. PAE and the SWAN Helpline work together with county children and youth agencies and affiliate agencies to bridge the gap between waiting children and waiting approved adoptive families.
The following is the process involved in SWAN Connect:
- Approved adoptive families call the SWAN Helpline to ask about any child listed on adoptpakids.org or www.adoptuskids.org.
- The approved adoptive family is given additional information about the child that is not on the Web site.
- PAE coordinators work directly with the child’s caseworker to get additional details about the child that are not available on their CY130 forms.
- That additional information about the child is then reviewed with the family.
- 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.