The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (H.R. 6893)
Passed unanimously by both Houses of Congress in September, 2008, the bipartisan Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act represents the most significant reform of the nation's child welfare system in more than a decade. Provisions of the legislation include: supporting the adoption of children from foster care, particularly older children and those with special needs; providing federal foster care funds directly to tribal governments so that more American Indian and Alaskan Native children can remain in their own communities; encouraging states to place siblings together whenever possible; and providing federal assistance for relatives who become legal guardians of the foster children they are raising. For more information, you can access a summary of the legislation here.
The Kinship Caregiver Support Act (H.R. 2188 / S. 661):
The Kinship Caregiver Support Act will enable thousands of children in foster care to leave the system to join permanent loving homes by giving states the option to use federal IV-E funding to support relatives who become legal guardians of children they’ve been caring for as foster parents. The bill also establishes the Kinship Navigator Program to help relative caregivers learn about and access existing programs and services. Senators bill sponsors Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) continue to gain support in the Senate for this legislation, with co-sponsorship reaching 24 in the Senate. House bill sponsors Representatives Danny Davis (D-IL) and Tim Johnson (R-IL) also continue to grow support for their bipartisan bill, with a total of 40 supports so far in the House.
The Adoption Equality Act of 2007 (S. 1462 / H.R. 4091)
The Adoption Equality Act would open doors to adoption for thousands of children in foster care by allowing all special needs children in foster care to receive federal adoption assistance payments. This measure was introduced by Senator Jay Rockefeller, IV (D-WV), a long time champion of children in foster care, and is supported by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) sponsored a companion bill in the House with the support of 20 bipartisan colleagues. The Fostering Connections to Success Act (HR 6307): This bipartisan legislation will positively impact the lives of the nation's foster children and youth and will make critical enhancements to the child welfare system. It will ensure that more foster children will have safe, permanent families and will improve their long-term health, education and well-being. Among its provisions, the Act reauthorizes and extends the successful Adoption Incentive Program, first implemented in 1997, and provides additional incentives for adoption of children with special needs and older children from foster care. It requires that efforts be made to place siblings together while they are in foster care, improves continuity of health care and education for foster children, and supports their transition to adulthood by extending foster care coverage beyond age 18. The Act gives states the assistance to continue federal assistance for relatives who become legal guardians of children they have been caring for as foster parents, which coul d help nearly 15,000 leave foster care for good, and provides direct federal foster care and adoption funding to tribal governments for children in their care.
The Improved Adoption Incentives and Relative Guardianship Support Act of 2008 (S. 3038):
The Improved Adoption Incentives and Relative Guardianship Support Act of 2008 champions permanency for children in foster care by reauthorizing the successful Adoption Incentive Program that encourages states to finalize more adoptions from foster care, ensures that all foster children with special needs can receive vital federal assistance, and provides federal guardianship support for grandparents and other relatives who want to provide a permanent home for the children they are raising. This legislation was sponsored by Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-IA).
The Invest in Kids Act (H.R. 5466):
Introduced by Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA) and supported by 10 co-sponsors so far, this landmark legislation would reform many aspects of the current child welfare system, including: making federal investments in prevention services proven effective at helping children stay with their families safely and reducing the need for removal from their home and being placed in foster care; promoting more permanency options for children in foster care; strengthen adoption incentives for all children in foster care, including children with special needs; and make relative guardianship assistance available when adoption or safe reunification is not possible. Read a summary of the bill here.
The Partnership for Children and Families Act (H.R. 4207 / S. 2900):
The Partnership for Children and Families Act strengthens the federal/state partnership for both adoption assistance and foster care maintenance by eliminating the outdated income eligibility restriction for IV-E that prevent all abused and neglected children from being eligible for federal foster care support. The bill also makes improvements to ensure that all children with special needs in foster care are eligible for adoption assistance. In addition, the bill would allow states to reinvest savings related to safely reducing the days children spend in foster care in other child welfare services, such as those that help children and families prevent the need for foster care in the first place. This messure was introduced originally by Representative Shelley Berkley (D-NV) and co-sponsored by Representative Pat Tiberi (R-OH). A companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
The Tribal Foster Care and Adoption Access Act of 2007 (S. 1956/H.R. 4688):
The Tribal Foster Care and Adoption Act would help Indian Tribes better address the needs of Native American children in foster care by allowing direct access to Title IV-E federal foster care and adoption assistance funds. Currently, only those Indian Tribes that have developed a special contract with a state can receive federal reimbursement for providing child welfare supports and services. Without access to reliable federal funding, Tribes will continue to struggle to provide the full array of programs needed to help keep families together and reduce the need for foster care. This measure was introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) with strong bipartisan support. Original co-sponsors include Senators Pete Domenici (R-NM), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Gordon Smith (R-OR), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), John McCain (R-AZ), Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Carl Levin (D-MI). A companion bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) and bipartisan members of the House Ways and Means Committee, including Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) and Ranking Member Jerry Weller (R-IL) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). The Senate version continues to add cosponsors with Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) joining his Montana colleague Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) in support of the bill.