Huffman, Bacon, Gillibrand, Lankford Introduce Bill to Improve National Adoption and Foster Care Home Studies

Bipartisan Bill Would Increase Transparency, Consistency in Reports to Better Serve Children, Families

June 22, 2021

Washington, D.C. – Today, Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA-02) and Don Bacon (R-NE-02) introduced the bipartisan, bicameral National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Act of 2021, legislation to create a national standard and database to increase the uniformity and transparency of home studies for families adopting children. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and James Lankford (R-OK) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

Across the United States, home studies are mandated for every family who is adopting a child domestically from a private agency or public child welfare agency. Home studies provide child welfare agencies and the courts with the necessary comprehensive information for determining the most appropriate home for a child. However, current home study requirements vary vastly from state to state and there is little consistency across the country.

“Every child deserves a loving, safe home, but the current lack of uniformity in America’s home study process creates a slew of issues that jeopardize children in the adoption and foster systems,” said Rep. Huffman. “Our bill would create the standards and transparency necessary to ensure children’s needs are put first, regardless of where they live.” 

“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 Rep. 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.” 

“Our outdated child welfare system can’t meet the needs of the thousands of children that enter the child welfare system every year. Congress has a responsibility to help these children find loving and stable families, and give them the opportunity to reach their full potential,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Act of 2021 would create a national standard and database for home studies so that all children have a better chance at being matched to families who will provide a caring home. I am proud to work with Senator Lankford and Representatives Huffman and Bacon on this bipartisan legislation, and I urge all of my colleagues to join us in trying to pass this bill.”

“Foster care and adoption advocates remain focused on ensuring the safety and stability of the children they serve as they work to connect children with families,” said Senator Lankford. “Encouraging states to meet basic home study assessments will lead to better outcomes for our nation’s most vulnerable children and ensure every child who needs a family can find a safe home where they have the opportunity to thrive.”

The lack of uniformity has resulted in a number of issues related to the home study process including: inability to collect accurate information on adoptive or foster families, bias in decisions of suitability due to family self-reporting of information, lengthy and costly home-study processes, and delays in interstate adoption and fostering.

The National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Act amends the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) by creating a new program under the Adoption Opportunities Program and includes three main components:    

  1. Development of a research-based National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study assessment process and demonstration program,
  2. Development and deployment of a National Home Study Database, and
  3. Evaluation of National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study methodology and National Home Study Database deployment.

“The Military Family Building Coalition is proud to support the National Adoption and Foster Care Act of 2021. This bill will be highly impactful in reducing unnecessary barriers for military families due to frequent relocations for service - and offers hope in providing military members a smoother process in successfully growing a family through adoption. The Home Study Bill 2021 is fundamental in developing a 21c military culture that recognizes the importance and value of family building as an essential benefit in supporting the force of the future,” said Katy Bell Hendrickson, founder of the Military Family Building Coalition.

Text of the legislation can be found here.

Congressmen Huffman and Bacon were joined in the introduction by Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01), and Jim Langevin (D-RI-02).

The legislation is supported by Ambassador Susan Jacobs, the former Special Advisor for Children’s Issues at the State Department; the Military Family Building Coalition; the National Association of Counsel for Children; and the Consortium for Children.