Supports and Networking for Adoption and Permanency Planning
The Supports and Networking for Adoption and Permanency Planning program (SNAPP), formerly known as the Special Needs Adoption Program has, since 1989, been an integral component of services provided to Central Okanagan children who are in the continuing custody of the Director of the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) and have been referred to be considered for adoption and permanency planning. This program area is founded on the belief that all children need and deserve the opportunity to grow up in a family that can provide them with permanence and an unconditional, life-long commitment.
- The SNAPP program is a program of Kelowna Community Resources and is on contract exclusively to the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) for delivery of services.
- The program is co-located with and is under the supervision of the MCFD Adoption Team. The program is designed to become a part of MCFD’s adoption and permanency planning team for children when an eligible referral is made to the adoption team.
- The SNAPP program usually receives referrals for children who are three years of age or older but on occasion will receive referrals for younger children who are in need of some specialized transition work. The majority of the children accepted into the program are in the Continuing Care of the Director (permanent wards).
- Referral meetings are held the 4th Thursday of each month in the MCFD Adoptions Office. Referrals are made by children’s guardianship social workers. SNAPP, adoption social workers and the child’s guardianship social worker attend this initial referral meeting where all options for permanency (including foster-to-adopt) are considered.
Duration of Services and Service Capacity
- Children accepted into the program will be visited regularly by a SNAPP worker, usually in their foster home, as often as once per week or twice monthly. Visits may occur more frequently during times of transition.
- The SNAPP worker will engage the child in a variety of age appropriate activities to assist with sharing and recording the child’s birth history, identifying feelings, addressing issues of grief and loss and explaining different types of families (birth family, foster family, adoptive family, etc.).
- SNAPP workers provide support to children, and their foster and adoptive/permanent families throughout the process of transitioning homes.
- After children are transitioned into an adoptive or another type of permanent home within the Okanagan region, SNAPP continues visits post-placement for a time of two months or more in order to support children and their adoptive/permanent families during post-placement adjustments.
Referral, Orientation, and Intake to the Service
- At the referral meeting, A referral form will be used to gather the information needed to evaluate eligibility for the program
- Notice of acceptance of referral will usually be done at the end of the referral meeting. If more information is needed, notification of acceptance will be done in a timely manner once the information has been received.
- The guardianship worker and adoption worker will give direction as to when they would like session work is to begin. Ability for SNAPP workers to start work with new referrals may, at times, be subject to a wait list. If this is the case, a projected timeline would be shared at the referral meeting.
- A planning meeting will be held before visits to the child(ren) begin. All members of a child’s team will be present at the meeting, including MCFD guardianship, adoption and resource workers, SNAPP workers and the foster parents. A package of information on the work of SNAPP and the MCFD adoption team will be distributed to and discussed with the foster parents at that time. As well, a planning guide form will be filled out by the whole team and tasks will be assigned to team members.
- The child(ren) will be introduced to their SNAPP worker and an overview of session goals and activities will be shared in an age appropriate way.
- Regular session work will be scheduled at the child’s foster home or at an alternate location.
Feedback to MCFD
- Regular updates will be given by the SNAPP worker to children’s MCFD workers about each child’s progress through the program.
- Feedback on the progress of each child will be done both formally and informally. Regular updates will be provided at adoption team and joint adoption-guardianship team meetings and at the child specific planning meetings. Any important developments for the child or concerns will be communicated to the adoption and guardianship workers on an ongoing basis through ministry email, telephone or face-to-face meetings. Check-ins with the foster parent(s) will happen regularly as session work is provided. The SNAPP worker will consult on program direction with the other team members on an ongoing basis.
- The SNAPP worker will work closely with all team members and will contribute their thoughts and observations as the MCFD workers assess the readiness of the child(ren) for adoption or permanency transition planning.
- The SNAPP worker will be involved in reading adoption home-studies and meeting with prospective adoptive families as potential matches for children are explored. They will utilize their knowledge of the children to offer their thoughts and feedback as MCFD workers assess the suitability of potential adoptive family matches or other permanency options.
- Feedback and updates around children’s responses and needs will be provided to the other team members as a child is going through a transition process. This will be provided at regularly scheduled check-in meetings and informally as needed.
- Written updates for the MCFD files around children’s work with SNAPP can be requested by the MCFD workers.
Discharge from the Program and Aftercare Plans
Discharge from the SNAPP program can happen in one of three ways:
- The child is placed locally and seen for a period of time after placement in their adoptive/permanent home. Together with the adoption social worker, the SNAPP worker will determine when the SNAPP work that has focused on supporting the child(ren) and their adoptive/permanent families as they are making their early adjustments in their new home together seems completed. As a child transitions out of the SNAPP program, here is generally a decrease in SNAPP visits, ending with a ‘Graduation’ from the program. Post-placement service is generally 2-4 months in duration after placement has occurred. However, there are exceptions where post-placement service continues for a longer period of time.
- The child has been placed in their adoptive/permanent home out of area. Under these circumstances there is usually some telephone follow-up with the child and their adoptive/permanent family. The child’s adoption worker and the family’s adoption worker are consulted as to the timing of this ‘graduation’.
- Sometimes, after a period of service delivery, children’s planning may change, for a variety of reasons. If the Guardianship social worker feels that the service that is needed for a particular child is complete, then that child will be discharged from active work. A ‘graduation’ or special ‘Good-bye for now’ would occur. Sometimes a child’s planning may also be placed in a holding pattern for a season. If permanency or adoption planning is likely to continue at a later date, the SNAPP worker may still visit sporadically to maintain relationship. If planning becomes active again, the SNAPP work would resume.
- When a SNAPP worker is assigned to a new referral, they will begin gathering the information necessary to share and record children’s history. As well, they will seek to understand the child’s needs and interests so that effective planning and delivery of session work can be implemented.
- Gathering information may include interviewing: past and present foster family, appropriate birth family, other community professionals, as well as guardianship workers. Photographs will be requested for the child(ren)’s Lifebooks.
- Other necessary information is gathered through a review of the ministry files. Copies of some parts of the file may be requested for SNAPP use. Any such information will be subject to be stored under the same rules and regulations that MCFD employs. (I.E. The copies will be stored in the MCFD Adoption Unit’s file rooms and will be under the supervision of the child (ren)’s adoption social worker.)
- Scheduling of sessions requires access to the child’s foster home or a suitable alternate location on a regular basis.
- Sessions may, at times, include the foster parent and will require a space and time that will be relatively free from other distractions.
- In order to do their work effectively, SNAPP workers will seek regular updates from the child’s workers and foster parents on the child’s planning, care, progress and anything that is otherwise impacting the child.
- The SNAPP worker will give regular updates to other team members on the child’s work with the program and will seek feedback on the services provided by SNAPP and on the pacing of session work.
- The SNAPP worker will actively contribute to planning as adoption and other options for permanency are explored.
- When a transition plan is being considered, SNAPP will contribute significant guidance and expertise in scheduling visits and in setting goals for the various stages of transition work. Information, education and feedback will be provided to foster and adoptive/permanent families before transition work begins and on an ongoing basis when transitions are underway.
- During times of transition, a visual calendar will be provided for children, families and the workers involved. The SNAPP worker will provide updates to the calendar as the process unfolds or changes are made. Anything impacting the schedule will need to be communicated to the SNAPP worker in order for the calendar to be kept current.
- When local placements occur, SNAPP workers will access the adoptive/permanent homes for session visits for a period of time.