Report

Nation's Child Welfare System Doubles Number of Adoptions from Foster Care

Quick Summary

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recently announced the awarding of the final round of currently authorized adoption incentive payments (totaling $149 million to 25 states and Puerto Rico) for increasing the number of children adopted from state-supervised foster care in fiscal year 2002. These incentive payments, announced every year at the close of the federal fiscal year, are part of a sweeping set of reforms outlined in the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA). The enactment of ASFA was coupled with a call to double the number of adoptions from the nation's child welfare system by 2002 Our nation's child welfare system succeeded in meeting this challenge, more than doubling the number of adoptions out of foster care by 2002.

Analyzing National Performance

Using the same baselines as the federal Department of Health and Human Services used to calculate the first adoption bonuses for states' performance in 1998, Fostering Results' analysis found that a majority of the states (33 and the District of Columbia) doubled the number of adoptions from foster care in at least one of the five years between 1998 and 2002. And, by totaling the number of adoptions during the peak performance year of each state between 1998 and 2002 (58,573) and
comparing it to the total baseline used to calculate the first adoption bonuses in 1998 (28,160), this analysis shows that the change is a 108 percent increase in adoption performance for the nation as a whole.

Data from all fifty states and the District of Columbia shows that 33 states and the District of Columbia doubled the number of adoptions from foster care during the five years since the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act in 1997. Of these states, six tripled and 2 quadrupled their adoption performance during this period.

State Highlights

Several states, such as Hawaii, Illinois, North Dakota and Wyoming doubled their adoption performance over their baseline average by 1998. By 1999, Arizona, Iowa, and Texas, had also doubled their adoption performance, resulting in permanent adoptive families for more than 13,000 foster children in these seven states in just two years.

  • Eight states (Hawaii, Wyoming, Maine, Delaware, Illinois, Idaho, Oklahoma, and North Dakota) more than tripled the number of adoptions from foster care over the baseline in at least one year during the five-year adoption challenge period. For example, between 1995 and 1997, Oklahoma averaged just 338 adoptions per year and in 2000, Oklahoma saw 1,067 children adopted from foster care. Hawaii went from an average of 85 adoptions per year to finalizing 349 adoptions in 2002.
  • Other states set new records for adoptions from foster care during this period. California broke a record when in 2001 it placed 9,859 foster children in adoptive homes—a 199 percent improvement over its baseline average of 3,287 adoptions.
  • States like Tennessee and Wisconsin met and exceeded the doubling challenge for the first time in 2002 with 758 (from a base of 328) and 939 (from a base of 467) adoptions from foster care, respectively.