CHN: Foster Care Bill Passes
The House passed the bi-partisan Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (H.R. 6893) by voice vote on September 17, and the Senate passed it by unanimous consent on September 22. The President is expected to sign the bill. The legislation recognizes the contribution grandparents and other relatives make in raising children through guardianship and adoption. It improves education and health care for children in the foster care system and extends federal support for services for youth to age 21 under certain circumstances.
The Act gives states the option of providing assistance payments to grandparents and other relatives who have moved from providing foster care to legal guardianship in order to provide children with a permanent home. The bill provides incentives to promote adoption of children from foster care and it makes it easier to adopt children with special needs. It calls for states to make reasonable efforts to keep siblings together in foster care and encourages kinship guardianship or adoptive placements to promote permanent family connections for children. H.R. 6893 expands the availability of training dollars to cover staff not only in public agencies but in private child welfare agencies, and for court personnel and advocates. It also allows Indian tribes to access funds to administer their foster care or adoption assistance programs.
The bill takes steps to address children’s health and education needs by requiring states to develop a plan for ongoing oversight and coordination of health care services for children in foster care. State child welfare agencies are required to improve educational stability by ensuring that children remain in the school they are enrolled at the time of placement into foster care, unless that would not be in the child’s best interest. Funds are increased in the bill for education-related transportation.
A more complete summary and analysis of H.R. 6893 from the Center for Law and Social Policy and Children’s Defense Fund can be found at: http://www.clasp.org/publications//FCSAIAActLongSummary091608.pdf .