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Kids Are Waiting Statement in Support of the Senate Finance Committee's Approval of Chairman's Mark to the Improved Adoption Incentives and Relative Guardianship Support Act

September 10, 2008

Today the Senate Finance Committee took an important step toward ensuring children do not languish in foster care by approving the Chairman’s Mark to the Improved Adoption Incentives and Relative Guardianship Support Act. This comprehensive legislation, which now awaits consideration and passage by the full Senate, reauthorizes the Adoption Incentive Program and provides relatives with guardianship support—both are crucial ways for children to exit foster care for safe, permanent families. It also provides American Indian tribes with direct access to federal foster care resources, a move which would strengthen tribes’ ability to serve the children and youth in their communities.

The Adoption Incentive Program, a critically important source of federal funds designed to increase the number of adoptions of the nation’s foster children, will expire September 30, 2008 unless Congress acts now. This successful program provides states with financial bonuses for increasing the number of adoptions over a baseline year. Since inception of the Adoption Incentive Program in 1998 as part of the Adoption and Safe Families Act, states have finalized more than 440,000 adoptions of children and youth from foster care and have received more than $211 million ­in adoption incentive funds. These funds can be reinvested by states in their child welfare programs and used to support additional adoptions. Although many improvements have been made to the nation’s foster care system, nearly 127,000 foster children are still waiting for adoptive families today.

In late June, the House acted unanimously to reauthorize the Adoption Incentive program by passing the Fostering Connections to Success Act (H.R. 6307). We commend Chairman Max Baucus (MT-D), Ranking Member Senator Charles Grassley (IA-R) and the other members of the Senate Finance Committee for approving the Chairman’s Mark to the Improved Adoption Incentive and Relative Guardianship Support Act. Senators Baucus and Grassley and the rest of the committee have demonstrated outstanding leadership and great compassion by working together across party lines to ensure that more children will leave foster care to live with the safe, permanent families they need and deserve. We urge the Senate body to follow their lead and pass this important legislation before the Adoption Incentive Program expires.

Oct 30, 2008 By FC Steve