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Guidance For Adoption Service Providers Helping Families Affected by Their Original Primary Provider’s Relinquishment or Loss of Accreditation
The Department has received several technical guidance requests from adoption service providers (ASPs) who are assisting families after their original primary provider relinquished or lost their accreditation. The following information is in response to commonly asked questions regarding the responsibilities of the adoption service provider (ASP) that is no longer accredited or approved, which cases need to be transferred, a new primary provider’s responsibilities when they accept a case, and fees that may be charged by a new primary provider.
An ASP’s obligation following the Loss of Accreditation or Approval
An ASP that is no longer accredited is required to transfer its intercountry adoption cases and records, whether or not prospective adoptive parents or adoptive parents request such transfers. An ASP that is no longer accredited or approved must execute the plans required by §96.33(e) and 96.42(d) under the oversight of the accrediting entity, and transfer its intercountry adoption cases and adoption records to other accredited agencies, approved persons, or a State archive, as appropriate.
Federal regulations also require an ASP to complete the refund of fees paid for services not yet rendered within 60 days. An ASP should provide prospective adoptive parents with information on any refunds for which they may be eligible and details about any fees that have not yet been expended that can be transferred to a new ASP. 22 CFR 96.40(h).
Which Cases Must an ASP Transfer Following the Loss of Accreditation or Approval?
In order to assess how the ASP’s loss of accreditation affects cases in different parts of the process, please review the USCIS publication If Your Adoption Service Provider is No Longer Accredited or Approved. USCIS may require prospective adoptive parents who need to submit evidence of a new primary provider, including a copy of the new client services contract/agreement or other similar document which establishes a clear adoption service provider – client relationship. A foreign government may impose additional case transfer requirements, such as, but not limited to, a requirement to transfer post-adoption cases to another provider.
Accepting Case Transfers from another ASP
An ASP that accepts a case transfer is responsible for ensuring that its actions as the new primary provider meet accreditation regulations and should therefore exercise due diligence on the case to ensure that the case meets the standards of Subpart F, for correcting any compliance issues before allowing the case to proceed (assuming the potential placement continues to be in the child’s best interest), and for its actions as the new primary provider. The new ASP is not responsible for the actions of the original ASP prior to accepting the case.
Exercising due diligence should include but is not limited to reviewing the prospective adoptive parents overall eligibility to adopt from the country where they have applied, their pre-adoption education and preparation, home study, and their suitability to parent the child they are matched with (if applicable). The Department strongly recommends that new potential primary providers thoroughly review the child’s medical and social background information, and all the underlying documentation that helped determine the child’s eligibility for intercountry adoption.
In addition, if an ASP is asked to take on another ASP’s foreign providers as part of the case transfer process, the Department strongly encourages a thorough review of their credentials and suitability, like an ASP would for any new foreign provider. Likewise, if an ASP is considering utilizing the services of a formerly accredited ASP as a supervised provider, the Department strongly encourages a thorough review of their suitability for that role under applicable regulations, including 22 CFR 96.35, 96.44, 96.45, and 96.46.
Primary providers must be in compliance with all applicable regulations including, but not limited to, regulations on using supervised and other providers found in 22 CFR 96.44 and 96.46. Failure to exercise due diligence on accepted case transfers does not absolve an ASP of its regulatory requirements.
Fees and Contracts
Agencies accepting case transfers will need to follow all applicable regulations, including but not limited to, standards on contracts, service plans, and fees. A new primary provider may need to charge fees to a family to exercise due diligence on a case and to provide any remaining services for the adoption or placement.
When an ASP Maintains Accreditation or Approval as a Primary Provider in the United States but the Foreign Country Prohibits the ASP from Continuing Operations in that Country
The guidance above also applies to case transfers that occur when the foreign country prohibits an ASP acting as a primary provider from facilitating adoptions in any capacity. In these situations, the foreign government may impose additional case transfer requirements, such as, but not limited to, a requirement to transfer post-adoption cases to another provider.
ASP Reporting Requirements
ASPs are responsible for filing all relevant mandatory self-reports to the appropriate Accrediting Entity within the specified timeframes. Questions about reporting requirements should be directed to the Accrediting Entity.
The Department of State’s Role
The Department of State’s role with case transfer plans is limited. The agency or person’s execution of its transfer plans is under the oversight of the Accrediting Entity. The Department of State does not review or approve case transfer plans. The Department does, however, communicate with foreign Central Authorities and competent adoption authorities about the accreditation status of agencies and persons and case transfer plans, as needed.