How Can I Become an Adoption Consultant?

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Licensing, certification, and bonding requirements vary from State to State. Not all States allow social workers or others to place children for adoption independently of an agency. You will need to check the laws of your State to see who is allowed to place children in your State, and if there are any statutory regulations or prohibitions against individuals placing children or operating as an agency.

You should contact the State Adoption Specialist and the State Licensing Specialist in your State to learn about the pertinent laws, policies and applicable regulations in effect which govern or regulate adoption consultants. You will be able to locate listings for State officials in the National Adoption Directory Online.

Think about how you envision the role of an adoption consultant.
Would you be performing required home studies for adoptive placement?
Would you be doing preplacement training of prospective adoptive parents?
Would you be locating and counseling birth parents who are considering adoption? Would you be doing the placement, getting the consent signed and filed in the courts?
Would you work in concert with agencies, attorneys, and doctors, or do you plan to work independently of these traditional placing agents?

What training or education do you currently have? Do you have a college degree in social work or a related field such as psychology, marriage and family counseling? Do you have a Master's Degree in Social Work? Requirements vary across the country but generally if you are interested in a position as a social worker, it is helpful to have at least a bachelor's degree in social work. In some parts of the US a master's degree is necessary.

Do you have a preference in what type of adoption agency you would like to work in (now or eventually)? Options may include:

* public child welfare agency
* private agency with a domestic infant placement program
* private agency with an international placement program
* private agency with placement programs in the three areas listed above

Depending on the type(s) of adoption you would like to work in, there are various ways to get into the field. Below are listed different job positions by the type of agency in which these professionals work, and some general guidelines on the types of education/training/past work experience which agencies are seeking with new hires.

Most, but not all, public agencies hire new workers in child welfare positions, then transfer people over into adoption once they have time and seniority. Job positions include:

* Social worker: Usually requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree. In the child welfare field it will involve work in child protective services investigations, intake of children entering the foster care system, ongoing foster care case management, and delivery of family preservation or other specialized services for the agency. Supervisors usually have or are working toward a Master's Degree in either Social Work or Public Agency administration.
* Recruiter: May require a bachelor's degree and a demonstrated knowledge of community resources.
* Assistants or Eligibility Technicians: Usually requires a high-school degree and some prior work experience.
* Subsidy workers: Usually requires a Master's degree in Social Work or Public Administration or working toward a degree. These professionals are responsible for a caseload of adoptive families receiving adoption assistance payments. Requirements may include knowledge of regulations, eligibility criteria, and paperwork.

Private agencies with infant placement program

* Social worker: Usually a Master's Degree in Social Work or a related field and experience in some related work such as counseling, public child welfare, grief and loss work, etc.
* Pregnancy counselor: Usually a college degree and some work or volunteer experience at a crisis pregnancy center.
* Case Aide or Secretary: Usually a high school degree and work experience with paperwork processing.
* Fundraiser: Usually a college degree and work or volunteer experience with special event fundraising and other fund development activities such as planned giving, grantwriting, etc.
* Volunteer coordinator: Usually a college degree and work or volunteer experience in working with volunteers to recruit, train, and supervise volunteers in programmatic or special event settings.

Private agencies with international program

* Social worker: Usually a Master's Degree in Social Work or a related field and experience in some related work such as counseling, public child welfare, grief and loss work, etc. Knowledge of cross-cultural adoption issues and of child-welfare systems of sending countries is helpful.
* Case Aide or Secretary: Usually a high school degree and work experience with paperwork processing. Requires knowledge of country-specific processing requirements and dossier documents used to process the adoption abroad.
* Fundraiser: Usually a college degree and work or volunteer experience with special event fundraising and other fund development activities such as planned giving, grantwriting, etc.
* Volunteer coordinator: Usually a college degree and work or volunteer experience in working with volunteers to recruit, train, and supervise volunteers in programmatic or special event settings.

Private agencies contracting with public child welfare agencies for the placement of foster children

* Social worker: Usually a Master's Degree in Social Work or a related field and experience in some related work such as counseling, public child welfare, grief and loss work, etc. Knowledge of public child welfare systems and issues for children abused and neglected before entering foster care is essential.
* Foster home supervisor: Usually a Master's degree in Social Work. Involves providing oversight of a caseload of private foster care homes under contract to the State or county DSS where public agency children receive specialized services.
* Case Aide or Secretary: Usually a high school degree and work experience with paperwork processing and reporting requirements. Knowledge of managed care, SSI and Medicaid, and State funding streams is helpful.
* Various types of assistants to coordinate related services: Bachelor's degree and knowledge of related service systems such as mental health, developmental disabilities, respite care, and residential treatment are all helpful.

Multi-service private agencies with several programs (older child foster care, domestic infant, international, residential treatment, etc.) These are generally large multi-layered agencies with internal career development paths. In some cases it is possible to start at an entry level to get experience, then pursue education as you identify the career path you want.

* Social worker: Usually a Master's Degree in Social Work or a related field and experience in some related work such as counseling, public child welfare, grief and loss work, etc. Knowledge of public child welfare systems and issues for children abused and neglected before entering foster care is essential.
* Foster home supervisor: Usually a Master's degree in Social Work. Involves providing oversight of a caseload of private foster care homes under contract to the State or county DSS where public agency children receive specialized services.
* Case Aide or Secretary: Usually a high school degree and work experience with paperwork processing and reporting requirements. Knowledge of managed care, SSI and Medicaid, and State funding streams is helpful.
* various types of assistants to coordinate related services: Bachelor's degree and knowledge of related service systems such as mental health, developmental disabilities, respite care, and residential treatment are all helpful.
* child care worker in a residential treatment unit: Usually a college degree. Knowledge of treatment strategies for children with emotional or behavioral disorders is a plus.

For those who wish to enter the adoption field, but do not have experience in their area of interest, there are volunteer jobs in private agencies that may give you some of the experience you will need to enter the field. In public agencies, professionals usually start at an entry-level position in child welfare services to get experience before moving into adoption.

This material has been taken from the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse Web site as reviewed and approved for addition to this site on January 15, 2004.

The National Adoption Information Clearinghouse http://naic.acf.hhs.gov, can be reached toll free at 1-888-251-0075,or by e-mail at: naic@calib.com.
Visitor Comments (1)
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karen - 4 years ago
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Im needing to know what agency should I cntact to apply for a case aide worker (will need training) in South Bend Indiana or Michigan city Indiana? My goal is to work in international adoptions asian countries, but I dont have a degree. Its being a aide or helper in the office or transport that interests me. Where can I go for job, and technique, and skill for the job?.........thank you #1

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