Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Key Bill Passes House!

NACAC was delighted to see that the Fostering Connections to Success Act (H.R. 6307) passed the House yesterday. (See previous post for more information on the bill.)

Now it's on to the Senate! We will be working for passage of the Improved Adoption Incentives and Relative Guardianship Support Act (S. 3038), which would:

* Reauthorize and expand the adoption incentive program
* Make all foster children with special needs eligible for federal adoption assistance (de-linking from old AFDC income standards)
* Create a federal subsidized guardianship program to support relatives who become guardians so that their kin can permanently leave foster care

Then we hope that, in conference, the final bill will also include de-linking of federal adoption assistance and the tribal direct funding included in H.R. 6307.

We encourage you to ask your Senators to sign on to S. 3038 as co-sponsors today. To reach your Senators, go to

Monday, June 23, 2008

Vote on Key Legsilation Expected This Week

On Jun 19, Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Representative Jerry Weller (R-IL) introduced the bi-partisan Fostering Connections to Success Act (H.R. 6307), which would promote permanency for foster children in several ways:

• Reauthorize and expand the adoption incentive program (due to expire in September), which rewards states for increasing adoptions from foster care

• Enable states to receive federal Title IV-E funds for subsidized guardianship payments made on behalf of children who leave foster care permanently to live with relatives

• Extend, at state option, adoption assistance and foster care maintenance up to age 21

• Promote the adoption tax credit, encourage placement of brothers and sisters together, and seek more educational and health continuity for foster youth

• Provide tribes with direct access to Title IV-E funding to help children and families in their care

• Expand access to Title IV-E training funds

As Representative McDermott explains, “I’m pleased to say that Jerry Weller and I have put together a bill on a bi-partisan basis whose only goal is improving the lives of foster kids,” McDermott said. “... This bill provides real help for children in foster care, especially those now pushed out of the system on their 18th birthday and those who want to live with relatives.”

NACAC is delighted to see this bill that will enable states and tribes to better serve foster children. In particular, the subsidized guardianship option could enable as many as 15,000 children living in foster care with relatives to leave foster care and live permanently with supported relatives. Currently, relatives who become legal guardians to care for foster children permanently cannot receive the continuing financial assistance they need to help provide for the children they are raising.

The direct funding for tribes is also long overdue. Although the Indian Child Welfare Act rightly gave tribes responsibility for tribal children in foster care, it did not provide funding. To access federal Title IV-E funding, tribes must contract with the state to receive support for children and families. It’s a simple matter of justice that tribes should have access to funds to meet their legislated responsibility.

A vote on this bill is expected this week, so we encourage you to ask your Representative to cosponsor HR 6307 right away. To reach your Representative, go to

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Senator Grassley Introduces Key Adoption/Guardianship Legislation

At an event early today, surrounded by adoptive families from across Iowa, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced the Improved Adoption Incentives and Relative Guardianship Support Act (S. 3038).

"These parents are extraordinary for their commitment to children. Few things are as powerful as the desire of children in foster care for a safe and permanent home," said the Senator as he noted that public policy ought to encourage and foster more adoptions for everyone's benefit, especially children.

NACAC strongly support this legislation, which would:

- increase payments to state for finalizing adoptions for children with special needs
- make all foster children with special needs eligible for federal adoption assistance
- create a federal subsidized guardianship program to support relatives who become guardians so that their kin can permanently leave foster care

The bill has also been endorsed by the Kids Are Waiting campaign, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, and the National Foster Care Coalition.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

More Children and Youth Waiting for a Family

The release of the latest AFCARS data shows that even more foster children and youth—129,000 in FY 2006 up from 114,000 in 2005—are waiting for a permanent, loving family. Sadly, the data also shows that more than 26,000 youth aged out of care in FY 2006 without finding a family—higher numbers than we've seen before. Adoptions from foster care remained steady at 51,000, and the overall number of children in care dropped slightly.

Clearly, there is a need for increased federal and state attention to finding and supporting families for foster children who cannot return home. It's time for legislative action that provides federal support of subsidized guardianship, increases access to adoption assistance, and enhances post-adoption support. Changes such as these would all help ensure that every child finds the permanent, loving family he needs and deserves, and that eventually no child leaves care without a legal connection to a family.

New Report Highlights Barriers to Adoption from Foster Care

The Collaboration to AdoptUsKids recently released a report that presents the findings of two longitudinal studies led by Dr. Ruth McRoy of the University of Texas at Austin Center for Social Work Research. Key findings from the study include:


Families interviewed most frequently cited the following agency barriers to adoption:
- agency emotional support
- adoption process logistics
- jurisdictional or interjurisdictional issues
- agency communications/responsiveness

All of these factors, except for jurisdictional/interjurisdictional issues, correlated with whether a family successfully completed the adoption process.

Workers surveyed saw barriers due that included:
- the type of child (age, behaviors, sibling groups, etc.)prospective families were willing to adopt
- prospects' criminal background
- lack of experience with children who have special needs
- the availability of post-adoption services


Families cited the following factors (among others) as important to the success of their adoption:
- parents' commitment to the child
- child's showing progress in the home
- the parents' and child had bonded
the parents had realistic expectations of the child

A majority of families also found post-adoption supports (adoption subsidies, counseling, medical care, and more) to be very or extremely helpful. More than 40 percent of families, however, reported a problem accessing services. When asked to offer advice to adoption agencies, families suggested improved access to services such as respite, subsidy, support groups, and counseling.

To learn more, download a copy of the full report.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

New Publication Highlights Benefits of Subsidized Guardianship

Earlier this month, the Kids Are Waiting campaign released a report showing that more than 15,000 children and youth could leave foster care permanently and safely if a federally supported guardianship was available. Strengthening Families Through Guardianship: Issue Brief highlights the successes that state subsidized guardianship programs have had helping children leave care for good.

The reports notes that children living in foster placements with relatives are as safe as those living with non-relatives, are more likely to be placed with their brothers and sisters, and are more likely to be in the same placement one year later, which is an important measure of stability for children. Research shows that stability in a child’s life contributes to improved health and education outcomes.

The report also points out that supported guardianships can save government funds by closing the case and ending the ongoing social worker and court oversight that is required when children remain in foster care.

Kinship Caregivers Need Support

by Mary Boo, assistant director

On April 10, more than 100 kinship caregivers and child advocates from almost every state gathered in Washington, D.C. to tell their members of Congress about why they need a federally supported subsidized guardianship program. While promoting the Kinship Caregiver Support Act, these dedicated advocates explained why guardianship is a necessary option and how the legislation could immediately help more than 15,000 foster children and youth across the country leave care permanently and safely.

I spent the day with two grandparents from Staten Island, New York, who know firsthand how important a guardianship option is. These dedicated individuals have adopted their niece and nephew and are foster parents to four of their grandchildren, and need support to make ends meet with their now large and unplanned family. Adoption isn't the right option for their grandkids but they see real limitations as foster parents. Several of the children have serious medical problems, but the grandparents cannot get them care without a birth parent's permission. They have had to cancel appointments and reschedule them more than a month later when they have not gotten the permission in time. New York has no subsidized guardianship option, so a federal subsidized guardianship program would definitely improve the lives of these children.

The Kinship Caregiver Support Act has significant bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate. We hope to see it pass into legislation soon. If you would like to write to your member of Congress to urge passage, please visit the Kids Are Waiting web site.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cutting Adoption Support Is Short-Sighted

According to a January 24 Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) report, more than 25 states are anticipating budget problems. Unfortunately, recent increases in adoptions from foster care have made adoption assistance programs a tempting cost-cutting target. Regardless of financial challenges, states should never victimize children and their adoptive families by reducing subsidy payments to balance budgets.

California, Maine, and Oregon are all proposing to reduce subsidies so they can balance their budgets:

• In California, the 2008–2009 budget would cut adoption subsidy payments by 10 percent, even for families with signed adoption assistance agreements.
• In Maine, proposed cuts include a cap on adoption assistance payments that is 30 percent lower than current rates.
• Oregon legislators are discussing ways to check the rising tide of adoption assistance payments. One representative thinks agencies should find more parents who will adopt without a subsidy and another asserts that Oregon should revise eligibility requirements so fewer children can access these payments.

As Mark Courtney—executive director of Partners for Our Children and the Ballmer Endowed Chair for Child Well-Being at the University of Washington—recently asserted, adoption subsidy cuts are “simply a poorly thought-out cost cutting strategy.” Cuts discourage foster parents and others from adopting and, as economist Mary Eschelbach Hansen points out, adoption improves cognitive, educational, social, and economic outcomes for at-risk children in care. In addition, as researcher Richard Barth recently reported, the 50,000 children who are adopted from care each year save the government from $1 billion to $6 billion.

Youth who leave care without a caring family face a difficult future. Studies note that those who age out of care are much more likely to have educational deficits and periods of homelessness, experience health and mental health problems, and come into contact with adult welfare and justice systems. Findings published in Ending the Foster Care Life Sentence: The Critical Need for Adoption Subsidies indicate that adoption subsidies are not just less expensive than foster care, they are vital to parents’ ability to adopt.

A few states have recognized this truth and made child welfare a priority:

• New Jersey increased the 2008 Department of Children and Families budget by $49.4 million. New funds will help the state support at-risk families, prepare foster and adoptive families, and enhance family-centered therapeutic services for children with serious emotional disorders.
• Virginia has a projected $1.2 billion 2009 funding shortfall, yet Governor Kaine’s 2008–2010 budget proposal requests a $36.2 million increase to raise foster care and adoption payments.

As states brace for lean years ahead and officials reflect on budgeting decisions, they must remember that adoption saves money and improves outcomes for children and youth. Adoption subsidies and other post-adoption support must be enhanced, not reduced.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Costs of Abuse and Neglect Are High

Two reports issued January 29 examine the economic impact of child abuse. In "Total Estimated Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect in the United States," researchers concluded that abuse and neglect cost society nearly $104 billion last year, yet only about 10 percent of the federal child welfare budget (or $741.9 million) can be used to support families and prevent child welfare involvement. The second report, "Investing in Prevention: Keeping Children Safe at Home," identifies series of programs around the country that are successfully preventing abuse and neglect and keeping children out of foster care, or that are safely reunifying children with their families. Learn more from Kids Are Waiting.

NACAC believes that federal and state governments need to do more to invest in preventing child and abuse and neglect. Not only is it the right thing to protect children, but it also would money in the long term.

Agencies Must Carefully Examine Child's Best Interests

NACAC's most recent position statement—Best Interests of the Child or Youth—identifies key elements that must be considered when workers and judges make child welfare decisions. Although such determinations are admittedly difficult, they are vital to a child's safety and well-being. In the U.S., state laws and practices vary widely and often provide little guidance. NACAC encourages each state to consider adopting policies and practices that taken into account the following factors:

• The physical safety and welfare of the child or youth, including food, shelter, health, and clothing
• The development of the child’s or youth’s identity
• The child’s or youth’s background and ties, including familial, cultural, racial, ethnic, language, and religious;
• The child’s or youth’s sense of permanent attachments, including:
-Where the child or youth actually feels love, attachment, and sense of being valued
-The child’s or youth’s sense of security
-The child’s or youth’s sense of familiarity
-The least disruptive placement alternative for the child or youth
• The child’s or youth’s wishes and long-term goals
• The child’s or youth’s community ties, including church, school, and friends
• The physical, emotional, mental health, and educational needs of the child or youth, now and in the future
• The child’s or youth’s need for legal permanence (reunification, guardianship, and adoption)
• The child’s or youth’s need for stability and continuity of relationships with kin, parent figures, and siblings
• The risks attendant to entering and being in foster care
• The probability of success of any (permanent or temporary) placement arrangement
Financial and programmatic support and services should be available to support any placement made in the child’s or youth’s best interests.

NACAC Passes Statement in Support of Siblings

At its meeting in December, the NACAC board of directors passed a position statement that encourages policy and practice changes that would better support brothers and sisters in foster care and adoption. NACAC recognizes the critical importance of maintaining and establishing sibling relationships for children and youth who have had their lives turned upside down in foster care.

Key elements of the statement include:
- Allowing children and youth to identify those they consider siblings
- Ensuring that sibling relationships are strongly considered at every decision point in child welfare
- Keeping siblings together or reuniting them as soon as possible whenever it can be done
- Maintaining connections for those siblings who must be separated.

Far too many siblings are separated when they face abuse and neglect. It's time to do far more to keep them together or rebuild fractured relationships.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Key House Leader Introduces Broad Child Welfare Reform Bill

On February 14, Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA), chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support (which has jurisdiction over the nation’s child welfare system) introduced The Invest in KIDS Act, which seeks the first comprehensive reform of the U.S. child welfare system in nearly 30 years.

“Every American kid deserves a safe home and a secure life, and in the case of vulnerable children, it is up to us to make sure that happens,” McDermott said.

The legislation (HR 5466) would:

• provide additional funding to help states in their efforts to strengthen families and protect vulnerable children;
• make all foster children eligible for assistance for the first time (only 43% of foster children received federal aid in 2006);
• provide assistance to states to improve and retain their child welfare workforce;
• eliminate the aging out of foster kids at age 18 by extending support to the age of 21; and,
• provide financial support to grandparents and other relatives who want to care for foster children.

These critical changes would provided needed support that help vulnerable children have permanent families, and ensure that those families have the support they need.

Children can't wait. The time for reform is now.

New Bill Seeks to Make Children a Priority

Yesterday, Representatives Chaka Fattah (D-PA) and Jon Porter (R-NV) introduced legislation to reestablish a White House Conference on Children and Youth. The bill (HR 5461) would authorize a conference to be held in 2010 to focus on child welfare issues.

Congressman Fattah explained, “It’s time to renew America’s commitment to our children, our national treasure. The nation’s future is dependent on preparing them to face the myriad challenges that lie ahead. “As leaders,” Fattah said, “it’s our job to make sure their basic needs are met and the promise of their possibility is advanced.”

The lawmakers hope that the conference, like others before it, will lead to major policy improvements on behalf of children. To read more about the effort, visit

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Recent Report Calls for Justice for Native Children & Families

Released this fall by the National Indian Child Welfare Association and Kids Are Waiting, Time for Reform: A Matter of Justice for American Indian and Alaskan Native Children explains the ways in which native children come into contact with the child welfare system. It also outlines federal child welfare funding inequities for native tribes, and how tribes should have more funding to offer preventative services and keep native children out of care. View or download the report at or call 202-421-3578.

The recently proposed Tribal Foster Care and Adoption Assistance Act would help address these disparities.

NACAC Seeks Support for the Adoption Equality Act

Originally introduced in May 2007 by Senator John D. Rockefeller (D-WV), the Adoption Equality Act (S 1462/HR 4091) gained a companion bill when Representative Jim Cooper (D-TN) introduced the House version on November 6. Aimed at promoting adoptions from care, the bill would remove the link between a birth family’s income and their child’s eligibility for federal Title IV-E adoption assistance. All children with special needs who are adopted from foster care would then be eligible for subsidies.

Tying federal assistance for children to the income of birth parents whose legal rights have been severed makes no sense. And as fewer children have access to federal subsidies, states will have to shoulder the burden of supporting adoptive families alone. In some cases, this will lead to more limited adoption assistance benefits, which may make a child less likely to be adopted or less likely to have the support she needs in a new adoptive family. When states receive reduced federal support it may also result in cuts to other necessary child welfare programs or services.

NACAC has long championed de-linking income from eligibility, and is seeking nationwide support for this legislation. If your agency, group, or organization would like to help ensure that more children receive federal adoption assistance, please contact Mary Boo at or 651-644-3036 to learn how you can help.

States Are Increasing Adoption Openness

A story in USA Today highlights a banner year for states that increased adoptees' access to their birth history.

Last year, Maine, Massachusetts, and New Jersey approved legislation that gave adoptees at least some access to their pasts. Massachusetts approved access to original birth certificates for adopted persons born before July 1974 (when records were sealed in that state) or after January 2008. North Carolina approved indirect access through a state-appointed intermediary. Beginning in January 2009, Maine will become only the eighth state to give adult adoptees full access to their birth records, including their birth parents' names.

The story quotes Darryl McDaniels (aka the rapper DMC) explaining why such access matters to adoptees like him: "This is really about identity and the truth of a human being's existence.... We never start a book from Chapter 2," he said. "As adoptees, we live our lives from Chapter 2."

The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute recently released "For the Records: Restoring a Right to Adult Adoptees," which examines issues related to states’ open records laws and supports the view that all states should allow adult adoptees to access their original birth information.

It's great to see states beginning to realize that adoptees have a right to understand their past. For more on NACAC's position on openness, visit our web site.

Monday, December 17, 2007

House Tribal Bill Introduced

On Friday, December 14, Congressmen Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) introduced the Tribal Foster Care and Adoption Access Act of 2007 (H.R. 4688), which will provide Indian tribes with the same direct access to federal funding for foster care and adoption services that states currently receive. The legislation—a companion bill to the act of the same name introduced in the Senate by Senator Baucus—will provide federal funding that will allow tribes to establish independent foster care and adoption programs.

“Tribal adoption and foster care services should be on equal footing with states, and this bill will do just that,” Congressman Pomeroy said. “This bill will allow tribes to provide their children with the culturally appropriate care they deserve.”

The federal government currently reimburses states for eligible foster care and adoption assistance costs incurred as part of providing foster care or adoption assistance to children under their jurisdiction. However, under existing law, tribal spending on foster care and adoption may only be reimbursed through contracts with the states in which they are located. The Tribal Foster Care and Adoption Access Act will allow tribes to receive direct reimbursement for eligible costs related to foster care services, adoption assistance services, employee training and education, administrative costs related to case planning and case management, and establishment and operation of required data collection systems.

This legislation requires tribal adoption and foster care programs to meet the same federal performance requirements as states to ensure the safety of and accountability for children placed in tribal foster care programs.

Congressmen Weller (R-IL), Blumenauer (D-OR) and Camp (R-MI) joined Congressman Pomeroy as original co-sponsors of this bill.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Proposed Legislation Would Eliminate Funding Lookback

In November, Representative Shelly Berkley (D-NV) introduced the important Partnership for Children and Families Act (H.R. 4207), which would expand the federal/state partnership for foster and adopted youth through the federal Title IV-E program.

Eliminating Income Links for Title IV-E

Under current law, a foster child is eligible for federal Title IV-E support only if his family meets the income test of the 1996 Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. Eligibility for Title IV-E adoption assistance is also linked to AFDC eligibility or eligibility for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. For both adoption assistance and foster care maintenance, the Partnership for Children and Families Act would eliminate the AFDC income eligibility restriction. It would also eliminate the SSI eligibility requirement for adoption assistance.

Now more than 10 years old, the AFDC standard has never been adjusted for inflation. Because of this lookback, thousands of abused and neglected children no longer receive support from the federal government—between 1998 and 2004 an estimated 35,000 fewer foster children were eligible for federal IV-E support. (Download detailed report on the lookback.)

During that same period, the decrease in IV-E-eligible children translated into an estimated $1.9 billion loss in federal support to the states. States must support all children in foster care, regardless of income. Thus, states have less funding for other services—such as family support and preservation services, programs to safely reunite children with their families, or efforts to find new adoptive or guardianship families.

Linking federal foster care support to AFDC also requires staff to spend time determining families’ incomes as of 1996. Precious time and money are wasted determining eligibility—resources that would be far better spent protecting children and ensuring that they leave foster care to permanent families.

Supporting Reinvestment

The bill would also allow states to reinvest saved federal foster care funds in other child welfare services if the state reduces its foster care population from an approved baseline. Currently federal funds are lost when states reduce their caseloads. With this bill, the federal and state dollars saved could instead be invested into services that children and families need, including:

▪Services that reduce the need for foster care entry, including family support and preservation services.

▪Intensive reunification services for children in foster care.

▪Services for children who leave care to return to their parents, live with relatives, or are adopted by new families so that children do not re-enter foster care.

This legislation is long overdue. It's time for the federal government to partner with states to support all children, not just those born to the poorest families.

Senators Seek to Improve the Adoption Process

by Mary Boo, NACAC assistant director

On November 19, Senators Clinton and Rockefeller introduced the Adoption Improvement Act (S. 2395), which is designed to speed the adoptions of children from foster care. The legislation would provide $50,000,000 in funding to retain prospective adopters as they go through the process of adopting from foster care.

“We have made important advances in the child welfare system since the Adoption and Safe Families Act was introduced a decade ago, but we still have work to do in order to increase the number of adoptions nationwide,” Senator Clinton said, “This initiative will help the tens of thousands of children still waiting for families find permanent, loving homes.” (Read full statement.)

The legislation is designed to address barriers to adoption that were identified in a recent study by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute in collaboration with Harvard University and the Urban Institute. The study found that each year, about 240,000 people in the United States will seek information about adopting a child from foster care. Only a very small fraction of these prospects end up actually adopting a foster child. As a result, thousands of needy children will remain in foster care and thousands of prospective parents will remain childless.

Research shows that prospective adoptive parents often face a number of barriers that discourage them from adopting children out of foster care, including difficulty in accessing the child welfare agency and unpleasant experiences during critical initial contacts with the child welfare agency, as well as ongoing frustration with the agency or aspects of the process.

To address these barriers, the act would provide funding to at least 10 child welfare agencies to enable them to implement projects to effect long-range improvements in the adoption process by increasing prospective adoptive parent access to adoption information and strengthening such agencies’ responsiveness to prospective adoptive parents.

This legislation would be a good first step to helping ensure that all 114,000 children waiting to be adopted have the best opportunities to find a forever family of their own. “I believe that success today is when we hear of a child who has found a loving home, and when we see a sad situation turn into an inspirational story of hope,” Senator Rockefeller said. “But success tomorrow will be when we reach each and every child – when not one is left wondering who is there to love them, when not one is left without a nurturing home.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Federal Funding and Culturally Competent Services Needed for Tribes

By Lisa Wilson, former foster youth, Montana

I am the oldest of 11 siblings. When I was born, neither of my parents had a drinking or drug problem. After having five children, my mom started using to relieve stress. My dad started using, and soon, he was using and selling meth. My mom and dad were good parents when they were clean, but when they were using, they turned into completely different people.

Social services became involved in 1995 and sent my brothers and sisters and me to four different foster families. I felt like my heart had been ripped out of me when they took us all away.

My mom was court ordered into drug treatment. She went to treatment, took a parenting class, attended AA meetings and looked for a job. My mom was going to do whatever they told her to do to get us back.

My dad attended a parenting class too. He was the only father in a class full of mothers because there weren’t any services for fathers. After my dad took that class, he never hit my mom again.

My dad was the bad guy in the eyes of my mother’s workers, who thought that getting rid of him would be the best thing for her. They never took into consideration the fact that she had never parented without my dad. The workers expected her to stay sober, attend all of her meetings, work full time, and raise eight children – all by herself.

My brothers and sisters and I were reunited with our parents for a while, but there were no supportive services for me or my siblings. Everything in our family had changed and we didn’t know how to handle it.

My dad continued to struggle with drugs and relapsed. He was ordered to stay away from our family. My mom made some poor choices, and my parents’ parental rights were subsequently terminated.

My siblings and I were separated into different foster homes and I aged out of foster care at the age of 18. Four of my brothers are now living with me and we are gradually healing together. I am married and have two children of my own. As I raise my own children, I am constantly reminded of what I missed as a child.

I believe that if federal child welfare funding was available to tribes in my state, there would have been more culturally competent supportive services for my family and we may never have had to be torn apart. My family has endured a lot of pain and suffering that could have been prevented had my parents received the help they needed to successfully raise my siblings and me.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

New Report Supports Direct Funding for Tribes

A new report, "Time for Reform: A Matter of Justice for American Indian and Alaskan Native Children," found that American Indian and Alaskan Native children are overrepresented in the nation's foster care system at more than 1.6 times the expected level, according to a new report by the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) and the national, nonpartisan Kids Are Waiting campaign, a project of The Pew Charitable Trusts. Yet tribal governments are excluded from some of the largest sources of federal child welfare funding.

Federal support for child welfare services in tribal communities is a patchwork of funding streams, most of which are discretionary and provides extremely limited levels of support. As a result, tribal governments have limited ability to provide services, and find themselves managing crises rather than responding to the core issues that put children at risk.

The Tribal Foster Care and Adoption Access Act of 2007, introduced in Congress by Senator Max Baucus, recognizes the special needs of American Indian and Alaskan Native children in foster care. This bipartisan legislation would allow tribes direct access to federal foster care and adoption funds and would create accountability measures to ensure that tribes meet the needs of the children in their care. According to Senator Baucus, "This bill provides tribes with the ability to serve their children directly with culturally appropriate care and understanding."

House Bill Seeks Adoption Assistance Equality

This month, Representative Jim Cooper (D-TN) introduced HR 4091, a companion bill to the Senate's Adoption Equality Act (S 1462). the bill, which has nine co-sponsors, would de-link Title IV-E adoption assistance eligibility from the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program requirements. By removing the link between a child's eligibility for adoption assistance from the child's biological parent's income, the legislation makes it easier for children to receive the support they need after they leave foster care to a permanent, loving adoptive family.

NACAC strongly supports this legislation and hopes to see it move quickly through Congress.