For Immediate Release
CDF Applauds Congress for Passing Bill to Help Hundreds of Thousands of Children and Youth in Foster Care
Bipartisan bill helps find permanent families and keep siblings together
WASHINGTON - Today the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) commended Congress for
giving final approval last evening to a bill that will provide help to
hundreds of thousands of abused and neglected children and youth in
foster care. The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act
(H.R. 6893) will help find permanent families for many of these
children through adoption or relative guardianship and ensure that more
siblings can stay together while in foster care, with relatives or in
"There is nothing more important to children than family," said CDF President Marian Wright Edelman. "CDF
applauds Congress for reaching across party lines and stepping forward
to improve the lives of our nation's children and offering these most
vulnerable children meaningful family connections. Compared to those
who have not been in foster care, these youth are more likely to become
homeless, unemployed or to be incarcerated, and more likely to have
physical, developmental and mental health challenges. This bill offers
them new hope. These improvements are a vivid example of how by working
together we can improve all of our lives by putting children first."
Under the current system, youth in foster care are often forced out
of care at age 18 and have few resources to help them transition to
adulthood. This bill will help older youth remain in foster care longer
to increase their opportunities for continued education, employment or
other activities helpful to their futures. The legislation-considered
the most significant reforms for children in foster care in more than a
decade-includes provisions to help youth in foster care by:
- Promoting permanent families for children with relatives
by alerting relatives of children about to enter foster care so they
can intervene beforehand, helping children already in care leave to
live permanently with relatives when they cannot return home or be
adopted, and supporting Kinship Navigator programs to link children
living with relatives with the supports they need.
- Keeping siblings together by encouraging their placement together in foster care, relatives' homes, or adoptive families or ensuring they stay connected.
- Increasing adoptions of older youth and children with disabilities or other special needs.
- Helping older youth in foster care increase their opportunities for success.
- Promoting educational stability and improved health outcomes
by helping children in foster care stay in school and minimizing moves
from school to school, and better coordinating their health care.
- Increasing services and protections for American Indian children by offering Indian tribes direct access to federal support for foster care and adoption assistance.
- Expanding federal support for training of private agency and court staff as well as attorneys and others representing children who have been abused and neglected.
Key to gaining support for the bill's passage were testimonials from
youth who had spent time in foster care, grandparents and other
relatives raising children, and adoptive parents. More than 500,000
children in America are in foster care at any given time; about
one-fourth of them are being cared for by relatives. Each year, more
than 127,000 children in foster care are waiting to be adopted. More
than 26,000 older youth leave foster care-most at 18-without being
returned home or adopted.
For more specifics on the legislation, visit www.childrensdefense.org/priorities_childwelfare#foster.
For more information about the Children's Defense Fund, visit www.childrensdefense.org.