Analyzing National Performance
Using the same baselines as the federal Department of Health and Human Services used to calculate the first adoption bonuses for states’ performance in 1998, Fostering Results’ analysis found that a majority of the states (33 and the District of Columbia) doubled the number of adoptions from foster care in at least one of the five years between 1998 and 2002. And, by totaling the number of adoptions during the peak performance year of each state between 1998 and 2002 (58,573) and
comparing it to the total baseline used to calculate the first adoption bonuses in 1998 (28,160), this analysis shows that the change is a 108 percent increase in adoption performance for the nation as a whole.
Data from all fifty states and the District of Columbia shows that 33 states and the District of Columbia doubled the number of adoptions from foster care during the five years since the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act in 1997. Of these states, six tripled and 2 quadrupled their adoption performance during this period.
Several states, such as Hawaii, Illinois, North Dakota and Wyoming doubled their adoption performance over their baseline average by 1998. By 1999, Arizona, Iowa, and Texas, had also doubled their adoption performance, resulting in permanent adoptive families for more than 13,000 foster children in these seven states in just two years.
Eight states (Hawaii, Wyoming, Maine, Delaware, Illinois, Idaho, Oklahoma, and North Dakota) more than tripled the number of adoptions from foster care over the baseline in at least one year during the five-year adoption challenge period. For example, between 1995 and 1997, Oklahoma averaged just 338 adoptions per year and in 2000, Oklahoma saw 1,067 children adopted from foster care. Hawaii went from an average of 85 adoptions per year to finalizing 349 adoptions in 2002.
Other states set new records for adoptions from foster care during this period. California broke a record when in 2001 it placed 9,859 foster children in adoptive homes—a 199 percent improvement over its baseline average of 3,287 adoptions.
States like Tennessee and Wisconsin met and exceeded the doubling challenge for the first time in 2002 with 758 (from a base of 328) and 939 (from a base of 467) adoptions from foster care, respectively.
The release of the court recommendations of the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care in 2004 focused greater attention on the need to enhance dependency court performance to achieve improved outcomes for children and youth in foster care and their families. As part of a first of its kind national judicial summit in 2005, states developed action plans to strengthen dependency court performance in the four critical areas identified by the Pew Commission: accountability, collaboration with child welfare agencies, judicial leadership, and constituent voice. The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 provided $100 million in court improvement funds to support judicial reforms across the country.
In this review, Kids Are Waiting both examines the progress that states have made since the 2005 summit in strengthening their dependency courts and improving outcomes for children, youth, and families, and makes recommendations for continued improvements.
The best interest of the child' is the philosophy that should drive child welfare decisions, but the rules that come with federal funding haven't always cooperated. More info
On Tuesday, October 7, 2008, President George W. Bush signed into law the "Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act." This landmark, bipartisan legislation passed by unanimous consent in the House on September 17, thanks to the leadership of Representatives Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Jerry Weller (R-IL) and in the Senate on September 22, due to the efforts of Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Max Baucus (D-MT) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). The new law represents the most significant reform of the nation's foster care system in more than a decade. More info
Many significant improvements have been made to the foster care system over the years, and across the country, case workers and court officials have worked to facilitate better outcomes for children in the government’s care. Yet the number of foster youth aging out of care keeps rising. In 2006, the latest year for which data are available, 26,181 youth aged out of care, a 119 percent increase since 1998. On average, youth who aged out of foster care in 2006 spent five years in the system, compared with less than two years for children who left through reunification, adoption, guardianship or other means. More info
Michigan's foster children may get three more years of help from the federal government -- to age 21 -- and aunts, uncles, grandparents and other relative caregivers may be in line, too, for some financial aid. More info