UCLA TIES provides services to resource families prior to the adoptive placement, during the transition of children from foster care to adoption, and following placement and adoption finalization. The array of services includes the following:
Preparation of resource parents: In addition to the standard education already provided by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), resource families voluntarily attend nine hours of additional training, called TIES PREP, specifically geared to the challenges of parenting and providing permanency to children with special needs, focusing on the issues involving prenatal substance exposure and other biological vulnerabilities, multiple placements, and abuse and neglect. Some of the topics covered are building empathy for substance abusing biological parents; learning what is known and not known about the impact of prenatal substance exposure and coming to terms with the uncertainties; learning strategies to work with the child’s challenging behaviors; reflecting on the pros and cons of resource parents disclosing the child’s history; learning to build in substance abuse prevention strategies for the child; and evaluating factors related to maintaining contact with the child’s birth family when there is a history of substance abuse. These sessions are guided by the principles, confirmed consistently by adoption research, that thorough education helps resource parents make informed decisions, and that the better the preparation, the more satisfied parents are with the adoption. Resource parents going through the foster/adopt process with DCFS can sign up for TIES PREP after they have completed their PS-MAPP training.
Services prior to adoptive placement
- TIES Interdisciplinary Team Consultation (Pre-placement Consultation)
When prospective adoptive parents are matched with a child (and not an emergency placement), parents may request a TIES Pre-placement Consultation request. TIES will review some combination of health, mental health, and educational assessments and/or treatment, visit and observe the child, and/or conduct psychological testing to present gathered information on the child’s needs and functioning to adoption workers and resource parents. The information informs of what may be recommended or required in order to attend to the child’s needs and assist with the transition from foster care to adoption. Prospective adoptive parents may use this knowledge to make an informed decision whether to move forward with placement given the child’s needs.
Services during the transition
- Individual Consultation on Children
Multi-disciplinary review of records by pediatricians, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and educational consultants and meetings with future adoptive parents help them understand possible consequences of strengths and vulnerabilities identified in the child as well as the recommendations for, and referrals to, needed services.
- Transition Services
Counseling sessions inform the resource parent(s) about the child’s development and temperament; promote attachment by addressing parent-child interactions and behavioral issues through an understanding of attachment and loss issues; and provide training in temperament-specific parent interventions. Individual child psychotherapy is available when appropriate.
- Support Groups
Resource families who have recently had a child placed with them or anticipate a placement shortly are invited to attend monthly support groups with experienced adoptive parents, facilitated by psychologists and social workers. Children participate in parallel child support groups.
Services following placement
- Pediatric consultation
- Educational consultation and advocacy
- Psychiatric consultation on genetics of mental illness and psychiatric histories of children with special needs
- Developmental assessment
- Psychological testing for cognitive, academic, social and emotional functioning
- Psychiatric evaluations for diagnosis and medication
- Speech/language evaluations
- Temperament assessments
- Occupational therapy assessment
- Play Therapy for young children
- Parent-Child Interactive Conjoint Therapy
- Family counseling
- Ongoing monthly support groups for parents and for children
- Parent psychoeducation
- Mentoring for parents and youth
- Psychiatric Medication Management Clinic
- Infant Mental Health program offering home visiting, developmental evaluation, and parenting education, and monthly support groups for Parent-Infant Adoption
- Specialty Programs:
- Reflective Parenting Practice
- Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Treatment