Senate Passes Major Child Welfare Reform BillThe Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 was passed by the Senate last night, and will now go to the President for his signature!
For the first time, federal foster care assistance will be available to kinship and relative caregivers. Also, over time, eligibility for federal adoption assistance will no longer be tied to the non-existent Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program.
This is an historic moment for foster children and families. We congratulate Congress on their effort! The kinship benefits and breaking the link to the old AFDC program are major steps forward and necessary as we strive to improve the child welfare system.
The legislation was introduced by Representatives Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Jerry Weller (R-IL) in the House. Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking member Charles Grassley (R-IA) are leading the effort in the Senate.
Kinship care is recognized as an effective way to increase stability and permanency for children who cannot stay with their parents. Living with relatives such as grandparents or aunts and uncles provides safety and a loving environment.
Language in the bill over time de-links eligibility for adoption assistance to the old AFDC program. This will make all special needs adoptions eligible for federal assistance and will encourage many more adoptions.
Other significant reforms in the legislation include opening federal training resources to private non-profit child welfare agencies, providing Native American child welfare organizations with direct access to federal foster care and adoption assistance, and providing states the option of extending foster care eligibility for you up to age 21 from 18. Also included in the legislation are improvements regarding education and health services for children in the foster and child welfare system.
The legislation will mark a significant turn around in support for our most vulnerable children, youth, and families. We call on the President to sign this bill as soon as it arrives on his desk.
CWLA will update you immediately. Stay tuned to the Children's Monitor for the latest updates and possible action!
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