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November 2004Vol. 5, No. 9HHS Awards Adoption Bonuses to States

On October 14, 2004, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced the awarding of $17,896,000 in adoption bonuses to 31 States and Puerto Rico. The funding comes from the Adoption Incentives Program and is given to States that were successful in increasing the number of adoptions from the public child welfare system over the number of adoptions in 2002.

This is the first time that bonuses have been given to States and territories since the program was revised and strengthened in December 2003. The bonuses go to State child welfare agencies for a variety of child welfare and other related services including adoption and adoption-related services.

"Adoption is a wonderful option for families and must be promoted by all levels of government," said Secretary Thompson. "The Federal bonuses we are announcing reward States that have worked hard to help children--particularly older children--in the child welfare system find loving, adoptive homes."

The Adoption Incentive Program, which was revised and strengthened last December by the Bush Administration, for the first time adds a focus on the growing proportion of children aged 9 years old and above who are in dire need of adoption before they "age out" of foster care. Two key changes that strengthen States' adoption and child welfare services are:

  • An additional bonus of $4,000 to States for each child aged 9 and above adopted from the public child welfare system. This bonus is on top of the current $4,000 provided for each child and on top of the $2,000 bonus for each special needs child adopted.
  • The threshold to receive incentives has been reset based on the number of adoptions in FY 2002, making States that reached their highest number of adoptions in the earlier years of the program more likely to qualify for a bonus.

"President Bush has worked hard to increase the number of adoptions so more children can grow up in safe, stable, and loving homes," said Dr. Wade F. Horn, HHS Assistant Secretary for Children and Families. "Today's grants continue this Administration's efforts to promote adoption from the foster care system so no child will be left behind."

Currently, there are 129,000 children in the public child welfare system waiting to be adopted. Of this number, approximately 50,000 children each year are placed into adoptive families. Approximately 19,000 children "age out" of the foster care system without ever having the opportunity to be adopted. The adoption bonus is in addition to a website previously launched by at the recruitment and retention of adoptive families for children in the foster care system.

For a complete list of HHS adoption bonuses, go to

Related Item

For more information about the Adoption Incentive Program, read "President Signs Adoption Promotion Act of 2003" in the December 2003/January 2004 issue of Children's Bureau Express.