Thursday, March 15, 2007

Senators Support Needed Foster Care Reform

by Joe Kroll, NACAC executive director

NACAC and many other child advocates were delighted to see the following language in a March 2, 2007 memo from Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chair and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, to the leaders of the Senate Committee on the Budget:

"Child Welfare

Since the passage of the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act, 392,500 children from the child welfare system have been adopted into safe, permanent homes, and we should continue investments to promote adoption and post-adoption support. Still, 513,000 vulnerable children remain in foster care needing care and support. There are several innovative programs across the country that seek to better engage relative caregivers in the lives of children needing loving safe homes. We wish to explore legislative opportunities for assisting more children to find safe and loving placements with willing relatives when appropriate. There is also an ever increasing need for appropriate and effective child welfare services in Indian country including authorization for direct funding to Tribal governments from the Title IV-E program. … We also plan to explore the issue of child welfare financing and will consider multiple financing reform ideas as well as the ability of the child welfare system to respond to changing levels of need in the future."

We were thrilled to see emphasis on the need for post-adoption support, along with a new interest in helping children and youth achieve permanence through subsidized guardianship. NACAC also strongly supports direct Title IV-E funding for tribes, which would give the tribes financial resources to support the responsibility they already have for native children and youth in their care.

The Senators’ interest in exploring child welfare financing reform is also welcome news. Currently almost 90 percent of federal child welfare funding flows to states only after a child is removed from her family and placed in foster care. It’s time to align federal financing with the goal of achieving a permanent family for every child in care.

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