November is National Adoption Month, and we want to raise awareness that permanency is needed for more than 3,000 children in Ohio’s foster care system who are waiting to be adopted. One way to facilitate permanency is ensuring an adequate child welfare workforce.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), in conjunction with Adopt America Network (AAN) has announced the statewide launch of the Adoption and Resource Home Assessor Program (ARHAP) on July 11, 2022. Since then AAN has been completing almost two hundred Homestudy or Kinship Assessments. ARHAP is currently serving 22 Public agencies and 8 private agencies across the State.
Many private agencies are experiencing high turn-over with staffing. If they are fortunate to have an Assessor available to do Assessments, often times those families are left waiting until the Homestudy can be completed. The ARHAP Program was designed to help agencies through these tough times.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Office of Families and Children (OFC) has been working to collaborate on ways to address the issue of identifying and certifying resource and adoptive homes across the state.
County public children service agencies (PCSAs) and Title IV-E courts experience challenges in finding resource (foster and kinship) and adoptive families who can meet the needs of children in their custody for many different reasons, which may include a lack of qualified assessors to complete the required home studies as well as a lack of resource and adoptive family candidates.
OFC has been working to establish new ways to increase the number of resource and adoptive families available and to augment the current home assessor workforce for agencies, as they work to meet the needs of the children entrusted to their care. The Adoption and Resource Home Assessor Program (ARHAP) has been created to help meet these needs.
ARHAP maintains a pool of certified assessors in every region of the state who perform assessments for Public Children Services Agencies (PCSA), Private Noncustodial Agencies (PNA), Private Child Placing Agencies (PCPA) and Title IV-E courts, upon request and as availability permits. ARHAP accepts requests to perform homestudies for adoption, foster, foster and adoption, and kinship assessments, including those home studies and assessments required through the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) process.
During the 2023 fiscal year, ODJFS will cover the Assessor costs of up to 800 homestudies and 700 kinship assessments through ARHAP. After accepting a request, ARHAP’s staff assign and monitor the progress of the assessor and will report the home study’s/assessment’s progress to the requesting agency every two weeks.
If you have questions about ARHAP, would like to submit a request for services, or would like to schedule an introductory meeting for your agency, please contact the AAN Director of Operations and Programs, Jessica Swaisgood at Jswaisgood@adoptamericanetwork.org. You may also visit www.ARHAP.org to learn more and request a home study/assessment.