Washington, DC -
09/23/2008 - The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act passed by Congress today generates significant improvements to the nation’s child welfare system, making it possible for more children to leave foster care quickly and safely to join permanent families. This groundbreaking legislation marks the most sweeping Congressional reform of the U.S. foster care system in more than a decade.
“Congress should be commended for coming together to pass this important bipartisan legislation, which will positively impact the lives and futures of the more than half a million children and youth currently in foster care,” said Rebecca Rimel, president and chief executive officer of The Pew Charitable Trusts. “We also want to recognize the tremendous work of the members of The Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care, the Kids are Waiting campaign, and the many others who have helped to make this national effort a success.”
The new legislation implements many of the core recommendations articulated four years ago by the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care. Among these are two provisions to support the adoption of children from foster care, especially older youth and those with special needs. The Act also authorizes federal resources to allow more children to leave foster care for safe, permanent homes with family members who become their legal guardians. And, for the first time, tribal governments will be able to receive foster care funds directly from the federal government, thus ensuring that more American Indian and Alaskan Native children can remain in their own communities.
The Pew Commission, a national, nonpartisan panel established by The Pew Charitable Trusts, undertook a year-long comprehensive assessment of the nation’s foster care system and developed practical child-centered solutions to improve outcomes for foster care.
“The need for all children to have safe, permanent families to love, nurture, protect, and guide them was a steady compass throughout our commission’s deliberations,” said the Honorable Maura Corrigan, Michigan State Supreme Court Justice and a Member of the Pew Commission. “State courts see tens of thousands of foster care cases a year. This legislation provides important new policy that will help judges and other professionals ensure that more abused and neglected children can leave foster care to join safe, loving homes.”
“Combined with the previous authorization by Congress in 2006 to provide state grants to improve court processes, this bill will result in positive outcomes for children in foster care.” said Bill Frenzel, former Chairman of the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care and currently a Guest Scholar at The Brookings Institution. "With passage of this legislation and previously authorized court reforms, I feel that many of the Commission's recommendations have been implemented."
The legislation allows states to continue providing support up to the age of 21 for young people in foster care who are pursuing education, training, or work. It also improves oversight of the educational progress and health care needs of children in foster care.
Kids Are Waiting: Fix Foster Care Now is a national, nonpartisan campaign dedicated to promoting foster care reform. Led by The Pew Charitable Trusts, an ever-growing number of local, state and national partners are working together so that our most vulnerable children don't spend their childhoods waiting in foster care for the families they deserve. For more information visit: www.kidsarewaiting.org.