Senators Lankford, Gillibrand and Representatives Huffman, Bacon Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Adoption Standards Nationwide
WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Don Bacon (R-NE) today introduced the National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Act, bipartisan, bicameral legislation that creates a national standard and database to achieve greater uniformity and transparency to ensure that the needs of children are put first no matter where they live.
“Safety and stability are two primary goals for every foster care and adoption advocate working to connect children with families,” said Lankford. “Creating consistent standards between states will provide greater uniformity, efficiency, and transparency in the child welfare system, resulting in better outcomes with the foster care and adoption experience. We all can do our part to ensure all children who need families can find a home where they feel safe and can succeed. I’m glad to partner with Senator Gillibrand and Representatives Huffman and Bacon to reintroduce the National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Act.”
“Every year, there are thousands of children who aren’t placed with a loving and stable foster or adoptive family because of our outdated and overburdened child welfare system,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Act would update our child welfare system by creating a national standard that will better place children with families that will take care of them and protect them. Congress should be doing more to help children in the child welfare system reach their full potential. I am proud to partner with Senator Lankford and Representatives Huffman and Bacon on this bipartisan bill, and I urge all of my colleagues to join us in working to pass it as quickly as possible.”
“We’ve all heard countless, heart-wrenching stories of children who need a home being bounced from family to family, without ever having the chance to settle down with one caring family who can truly provide for all of their needs,” said Huffman. “America’s children deserve better: Congress must keep working to ensure not even one child falls through the cracks of our adoption and foster care systems, and that every child is matched with the right family. Our bipartisan National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Act will help social workers and adoption agencies across states and jurisdictions to ensure that all prospective adoptive families measure up to the high and thorough standards that children deserve.”
“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.”
In Oklahoma, there were 2,593 adoptions in the fiscal year 2017. Currently, in Oklahoma, there are 7,973 children in foster care, 557 of whom are waiting to be adopted. Nationally, there were 59,430 public adoptions in 2017, with 123, 437 waiting to be adopted and 442,995 in foster care.
Specifically, the bill amends the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), directing that 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 information system 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
The legislation is supported by Consortium for Children, National Council for Adoption, First Focus, Voice for Adoption, Bethany Christian Services, Helpusadopt.org, You Gotta Believe–Adopting Older Kids And Youth, Foundation for Sustainable Families, Adoption Rhode Island, Adoption Advocacy Center Fund, and Treehouse Foundation, Koinonia Family Services, Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition, Adoption Associates, International Social Services USA, Foster On, Golden State Family, and Adoption Options—Colorado.