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CWLPN Newsletter March 2010

March 2010

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IN THIS NEWSLETTER

NCSL can help your work to develop strategies to improve your State’s child welfare system and to safely reduce the number of children in foster care through: 

  • On-site presentations, informal briefings and testimony before committees and hearings,
  • Written research and analysis, and
  • Informal telephone conference calls with state child welfare administrators, legislators and legislative staff in other states to discuss their experience in child welfare reform.

Questions?? Contact Nina Williams-Mbengue at 303.856.1559.

For any questions or to subscribe to the network and receive monthly newsletters by e-mail, please contact Kelly Crane at (303) 856-1372.

STATE LEGISLATIVE EFFORTS TO SAFELY REDUCE THE NUMBER OF CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE

States are working to safely reduce the number of children in foster care through reducing the number of children who have been in foster care for long periods of time and reducing the number of children that enter into state care. One such effort from the Virginia Legislature is highlighted below.

Virginia

Virginia Delegate Chris Peace recently introduced House Bill 718. This introduced legislation, which has passed the House (91-Yes, 6-No), will require the Governor and the Department of Social Services to develop and implement a plan to reduce the number of children in foster care by 25% by the year 2020. The plan provides for the placement of children currently in foster care or children entering foster care into safe, appropriate, permanent living arrangements.
 

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 7, 2008. This new law will help 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.

State Legislative Highlights in 2010:

There have been a number of bill introduced this year that are relevant to the various provisions of the Fostering Connections Act, such as educational stability, sibling connections, and relative notification. Following is a sample of such state legislation that has been introduced this session:

Alabama HB 617: Creates a kinship guardianship subsidy program.

Connecticut HB 5066: Provides educational stability for children in the custody of the Department of Children and Families.

Nebraska LB 971: Ensures that relatives are notified within fifteen days of removal of a child from his or her home. Determines that if the court orders the custody of a child and siblings to the Department of Health and Human Services the department shall make reasonable efforts to place any siblings together in the same placement. States that when a child placed in foster care turns sixteen years of age, a written transition plan of services shall be developed by the Department of Health and Human Services to prepare for the transition from foster care to adulthood.

To see a summary of 2009 relevant state legislation as well as additional information on the Fostering Connections Act, click here.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES ANNOUNCEMENT

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced in February the confirmation of Bryan Samuels as Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families at HHS.

Bryan H. Samuels has spent his career formulating service delivery innovations and streamlining operations in large government organizations on behalf of children, youth and families. His commitment to public service is largely motivated by his own success in overcoming great personal hardship during his eleven and half years of growing up in a residential school for disadvantaged children. This experience helped shape his commitment to serve children who lived in foster care and reinforced his belief that dedicated people and well-designed programs can make a dramatic impact on the lives of at-risk youth.

From 2003 to 2007, Samuels served as the Director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the nation’s third largest child welfare agency. While Director, he moved aggressively to implement comprehensive assessments of all children entering care, redesigned transitional and independent living programs to prepare youth for transitioning to adulthood, created a child location unit to track all runaway youth, and introduced evidence-based services to address the impact of trauma and exposure to violence on children in state care.

To view the full announcement, click here.

NEW AFCARS REPORTS RELEASED BY THE CHILDREN’S BUREAU

The Children's Bureau has released two new reports from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) for fiscal year 2008. AFCARS reports are based on data submitted by the States, which are synthesized to provide national data on children in foster care and those adopted from the foster care system.

The first report, The AFCARS Report: Preliminary FY 2008 Estimates as of October 2009, indicates that, on September 30, 2008:

  • There were 463,000 children in foster care, down from 491,000 in FY 2007.
  • Average length of stay in foster care was 27.2 months.
  • 123,000 were awaiting adoption, down from 132,000 in FY 2007.
  • 273,000 children entered foster care and 285,000 children exited foster care.

The second report, Trends in Foster Care and Adoption—FY 2002-FY 2008, shows a variety of statistics for each year, including the number of children in care, the number who entered and exited care, the number waiting to be adopted and actually adopted, and those who were served by the public child welfare system.

Both reports are available on the Children's Bureau website.  

IN THE NEXT NEWSLETTER

  • Strategies to safely reduce the number of children in foster care
  • Highlighted State Child Welfare Programs aimed at reducing the number of children in foster care
  • Highlights of the Fostering Connections Act
  • And More…

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