Adoption Incentives Could Be Reauthorized by 2014

Note: This article was updated on Dec. 12

The Senate Finance Committee approved a bill today that could usher in a reauthorization of federal adoption incentives before Congress breaks for the holidays.

The bill, called The Supporting At-Risk Youth Act, would also limit the use of long-term foster care and, for the first time, require states to track and report on failed or disrupted adoptions.

The bill was introduced by committee chairman Max Baucus (D-Montana), who circulated a draft bill on adoption incentives in early fall. This bill combines his framework with sections of a child welfare law introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and revisions to the Child Support Enforcement process and sections of other proposed legislation

“These proposals…will help foster a safer environment for our young people to put them on a path to leading happy, healthy, and successful lives,” said Sen. Hatch, in a statement released after the committee markup. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure these policies are enacted into law.”

Among the changes in the law:

New incentives: Would increase the adoption incentive for “special needs” children from $4,000 to $4,500, and would create a new, $4,000 incentive payment for completion of guardianship arrangements for foster children.

New calculation: Baucus would convert that incentive calculations to a system that gauged annual performance against the average performance in the three previous years.

Tracking failed adoption: Within 12 months of the bill’s passage, the Department of Health and Human Services would be required to “promulgate final regulations providing for states to collect and report information regarding children who enter foster care because their adoptions or foster child guardianships disrupt or are dissolved.”

Ending APPLA: The bill would prohibit federal reimbursement for foster youths under the age of 16 for whom the official permanency goal is Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA), the federal term for emancipation as opposed to adoption, reunification or a guardianship.

APPLA was established as an allowable permanency option under federal law in the late 1990s, and was meant to serve as a rare exception to plans for reunification or adoption. Instead, it has become the official goal for at least 10 percent and perhaps a quarter of the 400,000-plus children in foster care each year.

“We wanted it to be a last resort,” said Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) at a roundtable discussion about APPLA last year. “Over time,” it has become “an obstacle to reunification or adoption.”

A bill to reauthorize adoption incentives has already passed the House, in a unanimous 402-0 vote in October that took many by surprise. That bill, which has bipartisan support, would cut the basic incentive grant and eliminate the “special needs” award while keeping the award for older youth and creating a new $1,000 award for guardianships.

Hatch, the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, saw his APPLA restriction attached to the bill along with other sections requiring states to provide documentation and special case planning services for older foster youth at risk of becoming involved with sex trafficking.

Other sections of his bill, which would drastically limit federal expenditures on long-term group care for foster youth, were not included in this legislation.

Click here for a summary of the bill.

John Kelly is the editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change

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  1. While the problem of child abuse is serious and real, journalist Richard Wexler charges that our solutions to the problem have actually made it worse – in fact, hurting the very children that they were intended to help.

    Wexler reinforces his arguments with horrifying descriptions of children summarily removed from their homes, of families shattered because of false reports, and of children whose parents are guilty of nothing more than poverty being thrust into the maelstrom of the chaotic foster-care program. He writes of severly abused children – those needing the most help – whose cases are ignored because the system diverts scarce resources to trivial or unfounded cases, and who are reinjured, sometimes fatally after their plight has been called to the attention of authorities.

    Wounded Innocents illustrates how well-meaning efforts to help children have gone terribly wrong and how the current child-protection system desperately needs to be replaced with one that offers real help and real hope to abused and neglected children.

  2. Adoptees are seventeen times more likely to be locked up, four times more likely to be suicidal. 97.7 percent of first moms (In a survey of 1000) asked, or begged and pleaded to keep their child. Low end social workers are paid handsomely to move children. First moms and buyers are lied to to move these children. Buyers are not required to take tests and classes, the baby will not do the work to mold to the buyers. The legislation needs to change to force these sales to reveal the honesty of sales. We are insuring our own societal demise by forwarding improper movement of these children to insure fiduciary benefit of the sellers.

  3. While legislators want to move children, 97.7 percent of first moms (in a survey of 1000) asked begged pleaded to keep their child. The fact that low end social workers are paid handsomely to move children contributes to the down fall of our own society. First moms are promised that moved children will be cared for by exceptional children. Buyers are told the child will do the work to mold to them. Neither of which is true. Adoptees are highly represented in lockup. Legislationeeds to

  4. CPS stole my son for a year, they drugged him. He started punching himself in the face and was kicked out of school because of all the drugs they fed him. He was returned to me with SEVEN cavities. I am pissed…. can’t let them know because then I have anger issues. They are a joke! CPS destroys families!

  5. Exactly what my experience and thoughts are.Either they don’t have a clue which is inexcusable or they are purely evil which is frightening.

  6. Here’s what I know social workers ,and the agencies they work for line their pockets enough by trafficaing these children ! Who is the law here the federal goverment gives incentives to remove children from there homes ,place them with strangers who abuse these children it’s a known fact and my Grandsons words were Gamma Maggie does this to me then demonstrates to me and Iam forbidden to ever see him again !! Because I reported this and my state wanted to make a sale with him to an Itallian Family for a blonde haired blue eyed boy ? Justify giving child trafficang agencies the power money and incentive to do it again ! What has this goverment placed our childrens lives in the sum of monatary value and making Social Workers and their Agencies wealthy by stealing our children ? Wake up !! Read the horror stories of parents when Children are crying out for help ! Money isn’t the issue it’s families and the price tag your placing on our children !!! This makes for Greedy Social Workers their Agencies &Adoption Agencies to get rich quicker because our Goverment is increasing their incentives ! Do YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR DOING ?? Seriously !! I don’t think you do .

  7. While the intent maybe noble to encourage states to limit time spent by children in foster care; the result is de facto human trafficking under color of law while states maximize all revenue streams from the Title IV-E. Yes, its true that children who are not abused are being seized and placed in foster care so cash strapped states can get federal funding for the foster placement.

  8. The Adoption Incentives need to be ABOLISHED, not reauthorized. CPS/DCYF Nationwide are removing children from their homes and entire families at an alarming rate, whether the children are abused and neglected or not. Parent’s are never considered innocent even when it’s proven. Evidence of innocence is denied admitted into the Family Courts. They are profiting off our stolen children by using every dirty trick in the book in order to obtain their almighty incentive money. Services are not given to at risk families and relative placement is a federal mandate, but not adhered to by CPS/DCYF or the Family Courts. Our children have become a huge money market. VP Mondale was afraid the adoption incentives would be used in this destructive way and he was right. Instead of paying CPS/DCYF for every child they steal, incentives should only be paid for every family they help keep together. The adoption incentives is a backward system. They make money for every child they steal because that is how they make their money. There is no incentive to keep families together. There is no incentive for relative placement either as CPS/DCYF would lose money!

  9. And what of those children that were “diverted” into Kinship care guardianship? Where are the incentives for permanency in those families? Many cannot afford to carry the financial costs of private adoption, and when they do manage, they find they do not qualify “because the children were not “foster”

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