About NTI


Be part of a system change for children, youth, and families!

The National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative (NTI) has developed two state-of-the-art, standardized, web-based trainings to build the capacity of child welfare and mental health professionals in all states, tribes, and territories to effectively support children, youth, and their foster, adoptive, and guardianship families.

The NTI aligned trainings provide the skills, strategies, and tools professionals need to:

  • Support children to heal from trauma and loss.
  • Provide parents with skills to parent more effectively.
  • Collaborate effectively with child welfare and mental health professionals.
  • Improve outcomes for permanency, child well-being, and family well-being and stability.

What is the Goal of NTI Training?

NTI was designed to help you better understand and address the mental health needs of children, youth and their families moving toward or having achieved permanency through adoption or guardianship. It also seeks to improve collaboration between the child welfare and mental health service systems with shared language and aligned curricula. NTI aims to improve the outcomes by infusing enhanced permanency, adoption and mental health competency in the provision of casework and clinical practice.

Why is Specialized Training Needed?

Because of traumatic life experiences and early losses, many children who are adopted, in guardianship or in foster care, experience elevated risks for developmental, health, emotional, and behavioral challenges.

The impact of these experiences and challenges compromises well-being and family stability, for example:

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (2015) estimates up to 80% of children come into foster care with a significant mental health need.
  • 40% of youth adopted from foster care are diagnosed with ADD/ADHD with high incidence of pre-natal drug/alcohol exposure (Smith, 2006).
  • Adoptive families utilize clinical services at triple the rate reported by families formed by birth. (Howard, Smith & Ryan, 2004; Vandivere, Malm & Radel, 2009).
  • Foster/adoptive parents reported 1/3 of children had emotional problems and 40% had educational problems. (Festinger, 2006).

These problems are magnified by the fact that many behavioral health professionals do not receive adequate training in the needs of foster, adoptive and guardianship children. 


Learn more in the Rudd Adoption Research Program paper, Building an Adoption Competent Workforce: A Review of the National Adoption Competency”

Authored by: Director of NTI, Dawn Wilson, the CEO of the Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.), Debbie Riley, and University of Maryland School of Social Work researcher, Bethany Lee.

Why is the NTI Training Provided at No Cost?

NTI was funded through a cooperative agreement (#90CO1121) between the Children’s Bureau, and the Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.) working alongside the University of Maryland School of Social Work, Institute for Innovation and Implementation.

“NTI offers an easy-to-use and comprehensive overview of the unique issues of children in adoption and foster care placement.  Many adoptive families share that therapists lacking adoption competence training can, at times, do more harm than good.  I have found there is very little substantive training like NTI available today.”

David Brodzinsky

NTI Advisor, Professor Emeritus of Clinical Psychology, Rutgers University

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Funded through the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau, Grant #90CO1121.
The contents of this website do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the funder, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.