Reps. Huffman & Bass Introduce “National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Act”
Washington, D.C.- Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) and Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) introduced the “National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Act,” legislation that would improve how adoptions are conducted in the United States, including improving home study standards through the creation of a national standard and registry. This bill would create greater uniformity between states and ensure that the needs of children are put first no matter where they live.
“Over the years, I have heard countless, heart-wrenching stories of children being bounced from family to family, without ever having the chance to settle down with one caring family who can truly provide for their needs,” said Rep. Huffman. “We ought to be able to do a better job to match these children with families who are well-equipped to take care of them. With more than 125,000 children currently waiting in foster care limbo, there is an immediate need to create a registry with uniform reports and ratings so that social workers across states and jurisdictions can better match and prioritize children’s needs. The National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Act represents a crucial step forward through the creation of a comprehensive evidence-based system with national standards, and a registry to provide state child welfare agencies with the knowledge that prospective families actually measure up to high and thorough standards. I am especially grateful to Kate Cleary and the entire Consortium for Children team—which is headquartered in my congressional district—for not only raising this important issue, but for doing the hard work of creating high home study standards and implementing them across the country.”
“We need more programs that help reduce the number of children waiting for foster care or adoptive placement and this comprehensive, evidence-based home study assessment standard is a step in that direction,” said Rep. Bass. “The goal here is to find quality, loving homes that create good outcomes for our nation's foster youth and allow them to have stability in a safe and supportive environment. So I am proud to co-sponsor this legislation and look forward to continuing to find solutions to the issues in our nation’s child welfare system.”
The legislation received praise from several organizations:
Kate Cleary, Executive Director of Consortium for Children: “Consortium for Children and the SAFE Home Study Program strongly supports the creation of National Home Study standards and a home study registry. The current lack of national standards in the evaluation of families who want to foster or adopt is placing traumatized children in further jeopardy. While millions of dollars have been and continue to be spent on the recruitment of adoptive families, thousands of families who have been approved for adoption by public agencies still await placement. Rather than recruit new families who will require training and a home study, an effort should be made to place children who desperately need adoptive parents now with families who are already approved and awaiting placement. A home study registry could speed permanence for those children. For the above reasons we strongly support the National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Act. We are enormously grateful to sponsors, Congressman Jaren Huffman and Congresswoman Karen Bass for their leadership on this important issue and one that is so essential to protecting children.
Chuck Johnson, President and CEO of National Council for Adoption: “National Council for Adoption (NCFA) supports a national, uniform, evidence-based comprehensive home study for the assessment of prospective foster and adoptive parents for children in foster care. In my 13-year tenure with NCFA, I have become increasingly aware that vastly different assessment tools used by public agencies across county and state lines to evaluate and place children in foster and adoptive homes has resulted in substantial delays, denied placements to qualified families, and processing inconsistencies across jurisdictions with consistent guidelines. NCFA is hopeful that the proposed legislation will result in children in foster care finding the loving and thoroughly assessed, equipped, and prepared families to which we believe they have a right. Thank you Representatives Huffman and Bass for your support of a national, research-based uniform home study, and we encourage your colleagues in the Senate and House of Representatives to lend their support as well.”
Ashley Rhodes-Courter, MSW of Foundation for Sustainable Families and New York Times Bestselling Author of Three Little Words: A Memoir: “Protecting our nation’s children should be a top priority. Like me, thousands of children are forced to grow up in foster care. Unlike me, not all find a permanent family to transform their lives in positive ways. As the child welfare system strives to find permanency and support for all youth, it is imperative that each State work collaboratively to implement consistent national home study standards for potential adoptive and kinship families so that we maximize the number of homes available to waiting children, give agencies access to top practices and models, and help streamline communication with groups across the country--or even across counties within in the same State. The National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Act is an important step forward and I am thankful for Representatives Huffman and Bass for their leadership.”
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 standard and registry 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 Registry 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 National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study methodology and National Home Study Registry deployment.
The legislation is supported by: the Consortium for Children, National Council for Adoption, The Donaldson Adoption Institute, Inc., Helpusadopt.org, Bethany Christian Services, Ashley Rhodes-Courter (Foundation for Sustainable Families), You Gotta Believe--Adopting Older Kids And Youth, and Adoption Rhode Island