A new ABC News/Time magazine poll on foster care reforms, released on May 30, 2006, has identified an encouraging convergence of thought between child welfare policy experts and the general public: children in foster care deserve more assistance, and more help in securing loving, permanent families.
Only one week prior to the release of the ABC News/Time poll, Thomas Atwood, president of the National Council For Adoption (NCFA), testified before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources urging Congress to adopt broad foster care financing reforms, beginning with flexibility in how current dollars are allowed to be spent.
NCFA advocates strategic reforms that would increase needed services to abused and neglected children, including the recruitment of foster and adoptive parents, better engagement of faith communities for parent recruitment, and the hiring of more child welfare workers to better serve children in foster care. These goals are right in step with the poll's findings.
According to the 1,000 people polled:
According to Atwood's May 23, 2006 congressional testimony, "Adoptive and foster parent recruitment is a seriously under- funded and neglected program in America's efforts to ensure loving, permanent families for the 518,000 children in foster care, 118,000 of them waiting to be adopted."
With a ratio of more than 450 married couples for each child waiting to be adopted out of foster care, and millions of qualified singles who could foster parent or adopt, there are enough prospective parents in America to care for this country's vulnerable children. Additionally, there are three places of worship for each child waiting to be adopted, and all of America's major faiths exhort their believers to care for orphans. Effective outreach to communities of faith is a key strategy in recruiting families to serve at-risk children in many ways.
"Prospective parents need leadership and encouragement in order to recognize their callings to adopt or foster parent," Atwood continued in his testimony. "They also need education and training to prepare for the challenges they may encounter. Public-private partnerships, public communications, educational seminars, intensive casework, and the requisite agency staff to carry out these tasks are needed to recruit parents, process their inquiries and applications, and prepare them for their child. Financing policies must be reformed to allow the resources to flow to these vital responsibilities."
For more information on sound solutions to the foster care crisis, please contact the National Council For Adoption at 703- 299-6633 or visit http://www.adoptioncouncil.org.
Since 1980, NCFA has been a leading voice among national adoption and child welfare organizations. NCFA is a research, education, and advocacy nonprofit that provides adoption information, promotes ethical adoption practices, informs public policy and opinion about adoption and foster care issues, and serves as a resource for women with unplanned pregnancies, adopted persons and their families, those seeking to adopt, and adoption professionals.