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September/October 2001Vol. 2, No. 5Dual Licensure Emerging as Promising Practice for Foster and Adoptive Families

A new survey suggests that dual licensing of foster parents and adoptive parents may emerge as "the next addition to the toolbox of 'best practices' for the child welfare system."

So suggests the National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning (NRCFCPP) in reporting on the survey's findings. NRCFCPP developed and conducted the telephone survey for the Casey Family Programs National Center for Resource Family Support.

Dual licensing refers to the practice of recruiting and preparing families simultaneously as foster families and adoptive families through common home studies, training, background checks, and other procedures.

Historically, child welfare practices have discouraged foster families from adopting, but new legislation, research, and demographics have fostered a trend in the other direction. During the past few decades, most children adopted from the child welfare system are adopted by their foster families. Dual licensing is one way that States are trying to encourage foster family adoptions as a way to ensure permanency and safety for children in custody.

The National Resource Center study looked at four States in particular—Missouri, Utah, Oregon, and Texas—to explore this trend. State foster care and adoption managers and several foster and adoptive families were contacted for their views.

Among the challenges and experiences discussed were:

  • Missouri: Spent six years refining their training and home study model emphasizing the family-centered nature of dual licensing.
  • Utah: Is currently working through the complex realities of having the licensing arm of the State in an entirely different division.
  • Oregon: Completed 10-year planning process for dual licensure and implemented a common home study in the fall of 2000.
  • Texas: Initiated a consolidated home study in 1991 in one region, which expanded to a successful statewide model of dual licensure.

The survey revealed the following practice and policy implications:

Practice Implications

  • Child and family matching becomes an earlier concern.
  • Family-centered practice and reunification continue to be a critically important focus.
  • Systems reorganization supports dual licensure and enhances continuity of relationships for children with families and staff.
  • Resource families' understanding and support of the permanency planning process is critical.
  • Ongoing recruitment is urgently needed.

Policy Implications

  • Foster and pre-adoptive families need to have similar rights and equal protection.
  • Adoption subsidy rates need to be equivalent to foster care rates.
  • Examining whether dual licensure process encourages or deters relatives who are willing to care for a member of their family.

Access a copy of Dual Licensure of Foster and Adoptive Families: Evolving Best Practices online at: (PDF 231 KB)

Related Items

See this related article in the November 2000 issue of the Children's Bureau Express:

  • "States Streamline Foster and Adoptive Home Approval Process"