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Juvenile Justice Center Family Services of Philadelphia
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Program Coordinator : Mary Menszak
Executive Director: Jeanine Glasgow

  About the JJC Adoption Department

In 1993, the Juvenile Justice Center of Philadelphia was granted a Pennsylvania adoption license and by the spring of 1994, our adoption unit was staffed and ready to provide services. The department is known as the Department of Permanency Planning or by the acronym DOPP. DOPP delivers a full range of permanency services to birth families who wish to be reunited with foster children, and foster families who stand willing to adopt special needs children, or pursue Permanent Legal Custodianship (PLC). We also provide child profiles and child preparation services to foster children who are going to a permanency option.

How do I qualify to be an adoptive parent at JJC?

At JJC, foster parents become the adoptive parents/permanent legal custodians of children whose permanency goal has changed from re-unification with their biological parents. Singles and couples over the age of twenty-one years old, who are in good physical and emotional health, can apply. You do not need a large income, nor do you need to own your home. The adoptive parent cannot share a room with a child, but the adoptee can share a room with any children, of the same sex, that currently reside in your home. You would only need to provide a separate bed, with linens, for the adoptee. In Pennsylvania, anyone who has been convicted of assault or a crime against a child is automatically ineligible to adopt for at least five years from the date of the conviction. A new requirement is that FBI fingerprinting, Family Court clearance, and credit checking is required in addition to the criminal history and child abuse history clearances.

Who are the children in need of adoption? .

The mission of the department is to provide expeditious permanency for special needs children in foster care. It is felt that children deserve a safe and consistent living arrangement; this promotes their emotional well-being. When a birth parent cannot provide the permanent home then other families must be sought. It is then that these children need families that will open their lives and their homes. The children are described in many ways. For the purpose of this agency, they are children in foster care who are over the age of eight (8) years, sibling groups of three or more, children with medical, educational and/or emotional difficulties, and children who have been exposed to situations/conditions that may affect their future health and/or development. 

The Steps

Contact JJC at (215) 849-2112, ext 5162, to let us know when you are ready to begin the home study process. A social worker will contact you to provide more detail regarding our program. Each applicant is required to undergo a home study process before a child can be placed in their home. The purpose of the home study is to assess applicants’ appropriateness for foster/adoption parenthood, the process taking about two months because all applicants attend training and interviews and submit documents required by the State and Agency (FBI / Criminal Record / Childline clearances, medical, references, verification of employment, credit check etc.)

If an applicant successfully completes the home study process, then efforts begin to match the applicant with an adoptee. The time frame for this activity is not as predictable. Much of it depends on the willingness of the applicant to accept the characteristics of the children who are found to be waiting for adoptive homes.

Training and post-adoption support

All prospective adoptive families are required to attend group training and to participate in home interviews during the home study process.

Upon placement of a child, a social worker will remain in contact to monitor the adjustment of your family. If a child's FSP goal has changed from re-unification to adoption, then Termination of Parent Rights (TPR) will be pursued. If TPR is granted, an update of the home study for adoption will be prepared upon the recommendation of the social worker and the consent of the child's custodial agency, the process of finalizing your adoption will begin. Likewise, if the custodial agency chooses PLC as the child's FSP goal, then the home study is updated for this permanency option.

Families who have completed the adoption or PLC process are eligible for After Care services. For adoption, this eligibility for post-adoption services continues until the adoptee is eighteen years of age. For PLC, after care services are offered for the first year after discharge; however, the child is eligible for counseling services through the Behavioral Health System through the age of eighteen. JJC invites all families to call if ever they are in need of information or referral services. Families are placed in contact with local family support groups so that they may maintain on-going contact with other families providing permanent care for children.

How much does it cost?

City and State funding covers the foster care, adoption and PLC costs on behalf of all families willing to accept special needs children. This funding would also allow the adoption applicant to be reimbursed for legal fees and travel expenses that may be incurred during the pre-placement process.

In addition, through the Adoption Assistance program and the Subsidized Permanent Legal Custodianship program, there may be funds and health insurance available to the adoptive or PLC family for the on-going care of the child (until the child reaches the age of eighteen).

JJC is a non-profit organization registered as a charitable organization by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of State.