One measure of success for Allendale’s Specialized Foster Care Program is permanency. Permanency options for children include adoption, subsidized guardianship or independence.

Over the next 12 to 18 months, we project that over 18 Allendale children will gain new families, being adopted into their foster care relationships or having their foster parents take guardianship of them. The adoption rate in our Foster Program has been consistently high, at 25-30%. Given that our children are primarily ages 11 to 15, with emotional, behavioral, and mental health challenges, this is remarkable. Nationally, children aged 11-15 represent only 15% of those adopted from foster care.

How the adoption process unfolds:

An Adoption Goal
All children available for adoption must have an adoption goal, but they arrive at this goal in different ways. Some biological parents surrender their parental rights at childbirth; others do so later, upon realizing that they are unable to provide adequate care for their children.

In all cases, when a child has been in foster care for at least twelve months and the parents have not made substantial progress towards their goals, the termination of the parents’ rights must be considered. The case is prepared for legal screening with the State’s Attorney’s Office, where it is reviewed to determine if there are sufficient grounds for terminating parental rights. Once rights are terminated, the child may be assigned an adoption goal. Back to Top

Adoptive Resources
Once a child has been given an adoption goal, Allendale identifies an adoption resource. Often this resource is the foster family where the child is currently placed.

On occasions when the foster home cannot adopt the child, we seek an adoptive match in the community. In such cases the child and family visit over a period of time in order to develop a relationship. During this time, the Allendale case manager works with them to help them process feelings, answer questions, and address concerns.

While children’s feelings regarding adoption are always considered, an adolescent age 14 or older must give legal consent to his or her adoption.

Once all parties are ready to move forward, the legal documentation for the adoptive process is begun. Back to Top

Adoption Subsidies
If a child has special needs or is one year of age or older, he or she is eligible to receive an adoption subsidy. The subsidy, although it is reviewed periodically, continues until the child reaches age 18.

The Allendale case manager, in collaboration with the adoptive family, pertinent service providers, and the adoption attorney, completes the subsidy and the accompanying legal documentation. The case manager also conducts an investigative study of the adoptive home and submits it, along with the subsidy packet, to the Department of Children and Family Services for approval.

Once the subsidy packet has been approved, the adoption attorney enters a petition for adoption with the court and notifies the adoptive family of the date for the legal proceedings. The adoptive family and the child must attend the adoption hearing at court.

At this point, it’s time to celebrate the new family! Back to Top

Subsidized Guardianship
Subsidized guardianship offers children and families an alternative to adoption. In this situation, foster parents take over the guardianship of the child from DCFS. They remain the child’s legal guardian until they turn 18 or finish school. The guardianship is subsidized, meaning that the family continues to receive financial support for the child’s needs. Guardianship is an option either when the child is not interested in being adopted but the foster parents still want legal guardianship or when the child's biological parents’ rights have not been terminated. Back to Top