Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Reform Is Needed Now

by Joe Kroll, NACAC executive director

I have to say how proud I am of the progress that has been made in this country in the last 30 years. When our organization was founded in 1974, few people were paying attention to the foster children who were languishing in care, and adoptions of foster children older than two were rare.

Policy and program changes at the state and local level, guided by the passage of the Adoption and Safe Family Act and the creation of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families program, have made a world of difference to the nation’s most vulnerable children. Children’s time in foster care has been reduced, more than 330,000 children have been adopted, and adults have finally started to look at the system through the eyes of the child. Each year for the last five years, 50,000 children have left the insecurity of foster care for the permanence and stability of a forever family.

The progress has been remarkable, but there is much more to be done. More than 114,000 children are still waiting for a permanent family. Many others are consigned to long-term foster care, with no one even seeking a family for them. Each year, 20,000 young people age out of care with no legal family connection and an uncertain future. Many have limited education and poor employment prospects. Too many end up homeless, incarcerated, and physically or mentally ill.

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