03.21.17

Senators Lankford and Gillibrand Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Foster Care and Adoption Standards Nationwide

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) today introduced the National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Act (S. 684), a bill to improve matching children and families through foster care in the United States. This bill would also create a national standard and database to achieve greater uniformity and transparency to ensure quality foster care placements. Representatives Steve Russell (R-OK), Jared Huffman (D-CA), and Karen Bass (D-CA) today introduced the companion version of this bill in the House of Representatives.

“Foster children go through a lot of instability, disappointment, and even trauma, so we must step up and better care for the thousands of kids in our foster system,” said Lankford. “I’m glad to work with these foster advocates, and join this bill to help encourage successful standards, and provide greater uniformity and transparency in the foster care system. To address many of the poor outcomes associated with the foster care experience, and to prevent the ‘age out’ crisis, we must work together to provide permanency and families for these children. Oklahoma leaders and government leaders must be committed to making sure that all foster children have a stable environment to grow and thrive.”

“Thousands of children enter New York’s child welfare system and wait to be placed with a foster or for adoptive family every year, but our outdated child welfare system can’t keep up with the need and ends up preventing many children from finding loving and stable families to welcome them in,” said Gillibrand. “The National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Act would update our child welfare system, so that these children can be better matched to families who will meet their needs, take care of them, and protect them. Boys and girls who live in the child welfare system are some of the most vulnerable among us, and Congress has a responsibility to help them grow up and reach their potential just like any other child has the opportunity to do.”

Specifically, the bill amends the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to create a voluntary national home study standard and database within the Adoption Opportunities Program, including:

  • The development of an evidence-based National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study assessment standard and demonstration program.
  • The development and deployment of a National Home Study Database to allow foster care and adoption agencies across the nation to access through a secure system information about prospective families, providing a more efficient matching of foster and adoptive children to prospective families.
  • The independent evaluation of the National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study methodology and National Home Study Database deployment

Lankford is a member of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute and participated in several events last year in support of the Oklahoma Fosters Initiative. On November 12, 2015, Governor Mary Fallin announced the Oklahoma Fosters Initiative, a statewide campaign to recruit families to consider foster care. Their goal to recruit at least 1,000 new foster families statewide by the end of June 2016 was met. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services announced that the number of children in state custody fell below 10,000 after the successful campaign to connect children with loving homes. 

The legislation is supported by: Consortium for Children, National Council for Adoption, Helpusadopt.org, The Donaldson Adoption Institute, Inc., You Gotta Believe--Adopting Older Kids And Youth, Foundation for Sustainable Families, Adoption Rhode Island, Bethany Christian Services, Adoption Advocacy Center Fund, and Treehouse Foundation.

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