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Social Service Workers' Perceptions of the Service Needs of Special Needs Adoptive Families

26 July 2002


There are an increasing number of families who are adopting special needs children. Research has shown that these families need many different types of services in order to increase the likelihood of a successful adoption. The literature suggests a gap between what services families need to be successful and what services they are offered. Further, this gap is not just accounted for by limitations in financial resources. This study served as a pilot evaluation of which services social workers think adoptive families need. Twenty subjects participated in this project and they read a vignette about a hypothetical special needs adoptive family who was coming to them for service recommendations for their family. The subjects responded to a Likert-type scale regarding how likely they would be to recommend each of the nineteen listed services, which had been found in the literature to be important to families in the adoption process. The subjects then answered whether they would recommend each service pre-adoption, post-adoption or both. Descriptive statistics showed that in this pilot study, the majority of respondents were only "likely" or "very likely" to recommend ten of the nineteen "essential" services, and that only two of those services were recommended during the most effective time period of the adoption. Findings from this pilot study indicate that a replication of this study with a larger sample and a more refined survey would clarify how social service workers assign services to special needs adoptive families. Findings from future studies could also be beneficial in providing training suggestions for social service workers in order to help bridge the gap between research and practice in this vital service area.


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