The Best Way to Start an Adoption Agency
The following are some basic guidelines for setting up your own Adoption Agency. Though not exhaustive, it helps to give an idea for those who are contemplating in setting up their own agencies.
1. Develop a business plan and budget for the first two years of business operation. This should include:
• the nature of child placement / adoption facilitation services you or your agency will provide
• marketing plan
• staffing needs such as training
• source of income and expected expenses
• market niche that your agency is planning to occupy
• the difference between your agency and other agencies existing in your area.
2. Find out relevant State laws and regulations governing the placement of children for adoption in your state since these laws vary greatly from state to state. This information can be obtained from the State Licensing Specialists. If you decide to become a licensed agency, you must obtain an agency licensing application packet from the State Licensing Specialist. Also become informed on Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) regulations, ICAMA (Interstate Compact on Adoption Medical Assistance) provisions of the ICPC, and regulations operative in other states for out-of-state agencies.
3. If you wish to incorporate your agency under the laws of your State and the regulations of the Federal IRS Code, you should check State laws and adoption policy regulations to see if there are any regulations or restrictions on the type of incorporation agencies in your State must have in order to obtain an adoption license.
4. Most states require that the agency casework supervisor hold a Masters degree in Social Work (M.S.W.) or equivalent degree in a related field such as psychology or counseling. You also be updated on current best practices, research, and information in the fields of family assessment, post-placement supervision, and post-adoption service resources.
5. If you are new the adoption field, it would be extremely helpful to get your hands on the following publications to enrich your knowledge and to get first hand information on what you need to know from the experts themselves:
• Child Welfare, Child Welfare League of America
• Social Work, National Association of Social Workers
• Roundtable, National Resource Center for Special Needs Adoption
• Children & Youth Services Review, Pergamon Press
• Adoption Quarterly, Adoption Studies Institute
• Adoptalk, North American Council on Adoptable Children
• Adoptive Families; Adoptive Families of America.
6. Other useful reading tips will be on:
• predictable issues for adopted children and their families at different ages and stages of development
• cross-cultural issues
• family dynamics in adoptive families
• effects of early environmental deprivation
• health issues for adopted children-- recommended health and developmental screenings for internationally adopted children.
7. Enhance your knowledge on staffing requirements and available training programs either locally or nationally.
8. Check out training opportunities that are available at adoption conferences such as:
• North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) puts on the largest adoption training conference in North America every August. Call NACAC to receive the NACAC newsletter and a conference brochure.
• The Joint Council for International Children's Services (JCICS), a membership organization for agencies working in intercountry adoption, has a conference each April in Washington, D.C.
9. Contact directors of other local child placement agencies to interview them regarding their views on critical success factors for start-up agencies. The State Licensing Specialist can also recommend agencies to contact. In some areas of the country, private agencies meet to discuss topics of mutual interest periodically.
10. Another crucial source of information on standards for adoption services can be obtained from the Child Welfare League of America.
For more information on agency licensing, you can contact the State Adoption Specialist or State Licensing Specialist in your State. The contact information can be obtained from the National Adoption Directory.
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