Many important national organizations have examined the reasons for our failures and recommended innovative changes. The following resources are provided for those whose concern extends to taking some action.
AdoptUSKids. Facilitates the processes for permanence with waiting children in the U.S. “Increasing your agency’s capacity to respond to prospective parents and prepare older youth for adoption: Going beyond recruitment for 14 to 16 year olds.” www.adoptuskids.org
The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA, Public Law 105-89) was signed into law in 1997. ASFA was enacted in an attempt to correct problems that were inherent in the foster care system. ASFA marked a fundamental change in child welfare thinking, shifting the emphasis toward children's health and safety concerns and away from a policy of reuniting children with their birth parents without regard to prior abusiveness. As such, ASFA was considered the most sweeping change to the U.S. adoption and foster care system in several decades. President Bill Clinton stated that the bill "makes clear that children's health and safety are the paramount concerns."
Adoption in Child Time (ACT). Provides information and support to foster parents interested in adoption. Focus is on attachment and bonding issues. www.adoptioninchildtime.org
The Annie E. Casey Foundation. A premier source for data on child and family well-being in the United States. Their Kids Count Data Center is used to access hundreds of indicators, download data, and create reports and graphics that support smart decisions about children and families.
Child Welfare Information Gateway. Children’s Bureau. www.childwelfare.gov.
- Enhancing permanency for youth in out-of-home care. (2013) Stresses the importance of focusing on youth and family connections. Lists federal legislation and strategies for permanency planning.
- Supporting reunification and preventing reentry into out-of-home care (2012) Lists approaches and strategies that support reunification and prevent reentry, with examples of successful programs.
- Court hearings for the permanent placement of children (2012). Summarizes state laws on the court hearings that must be held to review the status of children in out-of-home care. The document also lists the people who may attend the hearings and the permanency options. The site provides a search for relevant statutes in each state.
Children’s Rights is a national advocacy group working to reform failing child welfare systems.
They have used their policy expertise and legal action to bring about some considerable changes in the lives of abused and foster children. They offer an informative electronic newsletter, “Notes from the Field,” focused on the civil rights of children. [email protected].
The Chronicle of Social Change provides information on The Many Faces of Child Welfare Reform. They note that the field of child welfare is brimming with policy proposals and legislation that could dramatically change the way the federal government invests in foster care and families on the brink. Some appear to have bipartisan support.
The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-351) made numerous changes to the child welfare system, mostly to Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, which covers federal payments to states for foster care and adoption assistance. The new law instituted changes in payment for kinship care, permitted foster care payments to age 21, and required that case plans were sensitive to the child’s education and health and the need to keep siblings together.
The John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP) offers assistance to help current and former foster care youths achieve self-sufficiency. Grants are offered to states and tribes that submit a plan to assist youth in a wide variety of areas designed to support a successful transition to adulthood. Activities and programs include, but are not limited to, help with education, employment, financial management, housing, emotional support and assured connections to caring adults for older youth in foster care. The program is intended to serve youth who are likely to remain in foster care until age 18, youth who, after attaining 16 years of age, have left foster care for kinship guardianship or adoption, and young adults ages 18-21 who have graduated from the foster care system.
The Hope for Families Interstate Adoption Program assists families who wish to adopt foster children across state lines. The organization provides 125 links to search for U.S. foster children whose parental rights have already been terminated. Most of the available children are 4 or older. www.hopeforfamilies.org
Listening to Parents. The goal is to eliminate unnecessary barriers that prevent qualified loving parents from adopting foster children. Each year, a quarter-million prospective parents will approach child welfare agencies to learn about adopting a foster child. Many find these agencies unresponsive, bureaucratic and unwelcoming. Less than 4 percent will actually follow through to adopt. A major reason why a gap exists between the large number of people interested in adoption and the smaller number of waiting and emancipated children is the different rules and policies in each state. Interstate adoptions become unnecessarily complicated. [email protected].
Mission Focused Solutions is an independent, nonprofit organization providing strategies and advocacy to assist child welfare organizations achieving permanency for children in their care. They provide services to select child welfare organizations to improve their permanency practices and the organizational systems that support them. [email protected]
The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges works to ensure justice for every family and every child in every U.S. court. NCJFCJ addresses many child care issues including child abuse and neglect, adoption, foster care and juvenile justice.
National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections. Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. Provides training and information, plus free weekly emails on current important issues. Also a Youth Permanency Toolkit that child welfare agencies can use to review their policies and practices. www.nrcpfc.org
North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC). Every child deserves a permanent, loving, and culturally competent family. Provides a regular email newsletter with up-to-date information. www.nacac.org
Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care. From 2003-2009, Pew worked with partners at the local, state and national levels to ensure that more displaced children were living with safe permanent families. Kids are waiting: Fix foster care (2010) offers sweeping recommendations to overhaul the nation’s foster care system. Contact: Linda Paris. [email protected].
You Gotta Believe in New York works to find a permanent home for foster children age 10 and older. Each child is assigned a mentor who gets to know the youth well, learns about adults who have been important in the child’s life, and then contacts these adults to arrange a meeting. www.yougottabelieve.org