Adoption Home Study Assessments

Thomas M. Crea

in Social Work

ISBN: 9780195389678
Published online August 2012 | | DOI:
Adoption Home Study Assessments

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In the United States, all families who wish to foster or adopt a child must undergo a home study assessment. This process is the avenue through which families are prepared, and approved, to provide a home to a child. The home study serves three purposes: (1) to educate and prepare prospective families for adoption, (2) to evaluate the fitness of the prospective family, and (3) to gather information that will help in connecting families to a child whose needs can be met by the family. While formats vary across jurisdictions, the home study process typically involves orientation, parent trainings, home visits by a social worker, individual and joint interviews of persons residing in the home, criminal background checks, medical background checks, statements of income and assets, contacts with references, and possibly an autobiographical statement. The social worker then uses this information to write a home study narrative, culminating in a recommendation to approve or deny the prospective applicants. Home study assessments have long been a part of adoption practice, but few empirical studies have been conducted regarding how effectively these assessments screen families in or out. This dearth of research has been especially pronounced over the past three decades, with recent studies examining interactions between social workers and families, as well as social workers’ perceptions of innovations in the home study process. A broader body of research explores family assessments beyond the context of adoption, the conclusions of which suggest that greater structure in the interview process and the use of multiple informants improve the validity of gathered information. Discrepancies in the structure and quality of home studies pose problems to the interjurisdictional placement of children, as well as to efforts to match appropriate families to children and children’s levels of need. To address these issues, many jurisdictions have implemented a uniform home study format. Research suggests that this uniform structure is well received by social workers, although some workers prefer inclusion of a family’s written autobiography as a central component of the home study.

Article.  6449 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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