• November 2018
  • Vol. 19, No. 9

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Training for Adoption Competency

Children awaiting adoption, as well as children who have been adopted, have an increased risk for mental health issues and often need mental health services. Mental health professionals, however, often lack enough adoption-competency training, leaving a void in support services for adoptive families with children with mental health problems.

An article in the Journal of Contemporary Social Services evaluates the Training for Adoption Competency (TAC) program, an advanced training program for licensed mental health professionals that was produced by the Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.). The TAC training consists of 12 modules focusing on topics such as clinical issues in planning; clinical issues in working with birth and adoptive families; preparing for and supporting adoption; trauma and brain neurobiology; and integrating adoption competencies into practice. In addition, the TAC program includes six monthly clinical case consultation sessions facilitated by expert clinicians and designed to help integrate the training components into practice; a trainer credentialing and support process; a weeklong in-person orientation; ongoing supportive technical assistance; and an ongoing multicomponent evaluation examining training delivery, effectiveness, and outcomes.

For the purpose of the study, researchers evaluated the following aspects of TAC using data collected from 900 TAC participants:

  • Training delivery—This was assessed using feedback from trainers and participants collected at the conclusion of each module.
  • Training effectiveness—This was assessed using a 34-item pre- and posttest based on the curriculum content given to participants as well as to a group of comparably qualified clinicians.
  • Training outcomes—These were assessed using surveys administered during the middle of the training and at the end of the training as well as through self-assessments.

Based on the evaluation, researchers found that TAC fully incorporated the aspects of competency-based learning and was delivered with fidelity at each training site included in the evaluation. Further, TAC was shown to improve adoption competency among health-care professionals and allowed them to view their practice through an "adoption lens."

Upon completion of the training, participants are invited to be listed on the C.A.S.E. website so families and others who refer adoptive families for mental health services can easily find adoption-competent clinicians.

"Training for Adoption Competency: Building a Community of Adoption-Competent Clinicians," by Anne J. Atkinson and Debbie B. Riley (Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 98), is available at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1606/1044-3894.2017.98.23.

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