In its experience—which is backed by research—adoptive families need greater support in dealing with the mental health of their adoptive children and the family as a whole. Approximately 80 percent of children and youth in care in Ontario have been diagnosed with special needs, and more than 45 percent rely on psychotropic medications. As the province works to find permanency solutions for these children through AdoptOntario and other avenues, the need for specialized support programs for adoptive families will grow.
Given funding restraints in all sectors, a key factor in building a network of post adoption supports in Ontario communities is the development of best-practice model of post-permanency support that is sustainable over time and can be replicated in the many diverse communities that comprise the Ontario landscape.
THE RESEARCH PILOT
Over a nine month period, UTLC funded an innovative agenda with ACO to begin thinking about the development of a best practice model that addresses post-permanency support in Ontario. A comprehensive post-permanency support program must include a number of key elements to meet the complex and unique needs of adoptive families, including:
- Peer-to-peer support networks
- Community-based access to adoption-competent mental health professionals
- Programs for adopted children
- Respite programs
- Ongoing education programs
- A database of support programs and mental health professionals that is managed provincially
This research led ACO to develop a comprehensive funding proposal toward enhancing province-wide supports to meet the growing needs of adoptive families. Recently the Ontario government announced significant funding to ACO aimed at providing some of these supports. See the ACO website for more details.