WE CAN HELP YOU FOR FREE
NCSL can help state child welfare systems develop ways to safely reduce the number of children in foster care through:
Questions? Contact Nina Williams-Mbengue at 303.856.1559. For questions about the newsletter, contact Kelly Crane at 303.856.1372.
- On-site presentations, informal briefings and testimony before committees and hearings,
- Written research and analysis, and
- Informal telephone calls with state child welfare administrators, legislators and legislative staff in other states to discuss their experiences with child welfare reform.
STATE LEGISLATIVE EFFORTS TO SAFELY REDUCE THE NUMBER OF CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE
States have safely reduced the number of children in foster care by preventing placements to begin with and increasing the exits of children who have been in foster care for long periods into permanent placements. One strategy is through removing barriers to adopting children who have been in foster care for a long time.
State Examples of Supporting Adoption
- A new program in Florida is making it easier for foster children with disabilities to be adopted by removing some of the financial burden. The state is now paying for services for children with disabilities even after they are adopted from Florida’s foster care system, allowing parents who could not necessarily afford to take on a child with significant challenges to do so.
- Georgia enacted legislation in 2009 (GA HB 237, Act 34) to remove any barriers to adoption by clarifying the financial assistance procedures for the adoption of children from the foster care system; financial assistance shall not exceed the cost of providing foster care.
- Virginia passed legislation in 2008 to remove the barriers regarding the population of older youth (2008 VA HB 138).
FOSTERING CONNECTIONS TO SUCCESS
President Bush signed into law the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (H.R. 6893/P.L. 110-351) on October 7th, 2008. This new law helps to connect foster children with their relatives, improve the health care and education coordination for foster children, support permanent families through relative guardianship, and enhance adoption subsidies and supports to older youth in foster care.
Legislative Highlights: Adoption and Guardianship Subsidies
Federal law now allows states to receive federal support for adop¬tion and guardianship subsides for certain youth through age 21. States have the option to provide kinship guardianship assistance payments on behalf of children to grandparents and other relatives who have assumed legal guardianship of the children and states will be reimbursed through federal title IV-E funds for this purpose. In order to receive payments, a state must negotiate and enter into a written binding kinship guardianship assistance agreement with the prospective relative guardian. Additionally, states must inform any individual who is adopting that they may be potentially eligible for a Federal tax credit. Below are state examples of enacted legislation around this provision.
- Alabama HB 617, Chap. 712: Establishes a kinship guardianship subsidy program. Sets procedures for establishing kinship guardianships and legal authority of kinship guardians.
- California SB 597, Chap. 339: Requires the State Department of Social Services or licensed adoption agency to provide information regarding the federal adoption tax credit for any individual who is adopting or considering adopting a child in foster care.
- Michigan HB 4159: Modifies the adoption support subsidy to include that the department may pay a support subsidy to an adoptive parent if specific requirements are met including that the adoptee is a child with special needs. Provides for extension of the adoption assistance agreement for an adoptee under 21 if certain requirements are met.
- Texas SB 2080, Chap. 1238: Extends adoption assistance to a child’s adoptive parents after age 18 and until age 21 if the original adoption assistance agreement was first entered after the youth was age 16.
Click here for Fostering Connections related state bills that have been introduced in 2010.
Click here for Fostering Connections related state legislation that was enacted in 2009.
November Free Webinars
The Fostering Connections Resource Center is a gathering place of information, training and tools related to furthering the implementation of the Fostering Connections law. Specifically, the Resource Center aims to connect implementers with the latest information and the best experts and advocates working on these issues. In 2010, they will be facilitating virtual webinars. Following are the webinars that will take place in November:
- November 5, "Kinship Care: What Does the Research Tell Us?" - The Child Welfare League of America is hosting a webinar providing a critical review of research-generated knowledge about kinship care, with a particular focus on the most recently published research findings. Click here to register for the free webinar.
- November 12, "Kinship Care: What is the Law and What Does it Mean For Private Kinship Care?" - The Child Welfare League of America is hosting a webinar that will review federal and state policies/laws on private kinship care, including the Older Americans Act, Fostering Connections Act, Social Security and public assistance as well as conflict between family value and legal value of "kinship." Click here to register for the free webinar.
- November 17, "What Parents are Saying about Foster Care Adoptions: Key findings from the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents" - Child Trends is hosting a webinar that will provide key findings from the National Survey of Adoptive Parents (NSAP) and their implications for federal and state policies. Researchers from Child Trends will present key findings from the national survey, and policy experts will discuss how these findings inform deliberations on adoption policies. Invited guests include adoption experts from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), and the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC). Click here to register for the free webinar.
- November 18, "Healthy Transitions to Adulthood: Policy Implications" – This webinar will be hosted by the National Technical Assistance for Children's Mental Health. It will discuss the impact of policy on the successful transition to adult hood and highlight positive initiates, which are addressing the challenges. Click here to find out more about this free webinar.
Click here to view a complete list of past webinars facilitated by the Fostering Connections Resource Center.
UPCOMING NCSL EVENT
NCSL Fall Forum, December 8-11, 2010, Phoenix, Arizona
Come to the NCSL Fall Forum to dig into the issues and learn how changes in Congress are going to affect states in 2011. Listen to the nation’s leading experts as they assess the fall election and evaluate the ways the state-federal relationship will shift with new perspectives in office. Click here to learn more.
NCSL CHILD WELFARE QUICK LINKS