Lankford Works to Improves Transparency for Adoption and Foster Care
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) yesterday joined Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA-02) and Don Bacon (R-NE-02) to introduce the National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Act of 2021, which would increase the uniformity and transparency of home studies for families adopting children.
“Foster care and adoption advocates remain focused on ensuring the safety and stability of the children they serve as they work to connect children with families,” said Lankford. “Encouraging states to meet basic home study assessments will lead to better outcomes for our nation’s most vulnerable children and ensure every child who needs a family can find a safe home where they have the opportunity to thrive.”
“Our outdated child welfare system can’t meet the needs of the thousands of children that enter the child welfare system every year. Congress has a responsibility to help these children find loving and stable families, and give them the opportunity to reach their full potential,” said Gillibrand. “The National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Act of 2021 would create a national standard and database for home studies so that all children have a better chance at being matched to families who will provide a caring home. I am proud to work with Senator Lankford and Representatives Huffman and Bacon on this bipartisan legislation, and I urge all of my colleagues to join us in trying to pass this bill.”
“Every child deserves a loving, safe home, but the current lack of uniformity in America’s home study process creates a slew of issues that jeopardize children in the adoption and foster systems,” said Huffman. “Our bill would create the standards and transparency necessary to ensure children’s needs are put first, regardless of where they live.”
“As a foster to adopt parent, I know how vital it is to collect accurate information on a prospective family so that foster children can be placed in a loving and safe home,” said Bacon. “This legislation will make the home study process uniform across the country, ensuring the safety of children going through the adoption and foster care process.”
The lack of uniformity has resulted in a number of issues related to the home study process including: inability to collect accurate information on adoptive or foster families, bias in decisions of suitability due to family self-reporting of information, lengthy and costly home-study processes, and delays in interstate adoption and fostering.
Across the US, home studies are mandated for every family who is adopting a child domestically from a private agency or public child welfare agency. Home studies provide child welfare agencies and the courts with the necessary comprehensive information for determining the most appropriate home for a child. However, there is little consistency in home studies across the country.
The National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Act amends the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) by creating a new program under the Adoption Opportunities Program and includes three main components:
- Development of a research-based National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study assessment process and demonstration program,
- Development and deployment of a National Home Study Database, and
- Evaluation of National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study methodology and National Home Study Database deployment.