October 2003Vol. 4, No. 8New Bill Aims to Increase Adoptions of Older Children in Foster Care
A bill introduced in the House of Representatives would reauthorize the Adoption Incentives Program and better target incentives to meet the needs of older children in foster care waiting for families. The Adoption Promotion Act of 2003 (H.R. 3182) was introduced on September 25, 2003, and was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.
While the overall number of children being adopted from foster care has grown dramatically in recent years, older children still face long waits and, in many cases, are never adopted. Children in this older age group now represent almost half of the children waiting to be adopted nationally. To address this problem, the Adoption Promotion Act would link some incentive dollars directly to increases in adoptions of children ages 9 and older, while continuing to recognize and reward overall increases in the number of adoptions.
Wade F. Horn, Ph.D., Assistant Secretary for Children and Families, presented the Administration's proposal for similar changes before the Human Resources Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee in April. In his testimony, Dr. Horn praised the Adoption Incentives Program, saying, "By providing a fiscal incentive and by shining a bright light on State performance in adoption, [the Adoption Incentives Program] has made a substantial contribution to increasing the number of children adopted over the past 5 years."
Another bill to reauthorize the Adoption Incentives Program (S. 1439) was introduced in the Senate in July and was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. For full text and information about the status of either bill visit THOMAS, a legislative tracking service of the Library of Congress, at http://thomas.loc.gov.
Approximately $14.9 million in bonuses was paid to 25 States and Puerto Rico for increasing the number of children adopted from State-supervised foster care in fiscal year 2002. For more information, including a list of States and amounts received, see the press release on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website at www.hhs.gov/news/press/2003pres/20030912.html.
For more on the Administration's efforts in support of adoption, see "Better Futures for Waiting Children" by Dr. Wade Horn, in the December 2002/January 2003 issue of Children's Bureau Express.
For information about National Adoption Month 2003 (November), see "National Adoption Month 2003 Campaign Recruitment & Marketing Kit Now Available" in this issue.