May 25, 2017

Sens. Young, Gillibrand, and Grassley Lead Reintroduction of Legislation to Improve and Modernize Placement of Foster Children

Washington DC - Today, Senators Todd Young (R-IN), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) led a bipartisan effort to modernize the foster care placement process. Their effort takes steps to alleviate our overwhelmed adoption system, which has only become more strained as the opiate abuse crisis worsens.

Senators Young, Gillibrand, and Grassley were joined in introducing the Modernizing the Interstate Placement of Children in Foster Care Act by Senators Al Franken (D-MN), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

Currently, states use antiquated paper-based systems to process and approve placement cases, significantly hamstringing efforts to place foster children in loving homes. The legislation would provide resources to modernize the system by implementing a standardized electronic interstate system, known as the National Electronic Interstate Compact Enterprise (NEICE).

"Right now, for example, Iowa is not yet a member of the NEICE system. If a child lives in Red Oak, Iowa, and there is a potential family able to care and provide for that child across the state border in Omaha, there might be delays in the paperwork needed for the adoption because the two states can't exchange data quickly and securely. Throughout the country, caseworkers often avoid exploring out of state placements because of the long delays in processing the paperwork. Our bill gives incentives to states to join the NEICE system and streamline the paperwork to make foster care placements and eventual adoption happen faster. The more we can do to give children safe, stable homes, the better. The increased displacement of kids due to parental substance abuse, including opioid abuse, makes this cause especially important." - Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)

"With so many American children in need of a home, we should not be delaying the process for loving, caring, and responsible adults who want to welcome these children into their families," saidSenator Gillibrand. "The outdated process we currently have puts an unnecessary burden on child welfare agencies and prevents children from growing up in a safe home with devoted parents. The Modernizing the Interstate Placement of Children in Foster Care Act would streamline the process, and let as many of our nation's foster children as possible find homes and parents who love them."

"Thousands of children in my state have lost loving parents to opiate addiction, and I fear if we do nothing, we'll lose thousands in the next generation, too. Modernizing the outdated interstate child placement process is one of a number of proposals that are urgently needed. It will help alleviate the strain on the foster care system. It will more quickly get children placed into loving homes where a set routine and stability will help them cope. Tragedy compounded by extended stints in various foster arrangements has proven detrimental to a child's future. For children caught up in a system struggling to meet community needs, we should do everything possible to get them immediately placed in the setting that's best for them, regardless of state boundary lines." -- Senator Todd Young (R-Indiana)

This legislation passed the House of Representatives as part of two different pieces of legislation - H.R. 4472 and H.R. 5456) in the previous session of Congress.

Supporters and Advocates:

Supporters: American Public Human Services Association (APHSA), Child Welfare League of America, Children's Home Society of America, Consortium for Children, The National Association of Counties, the National Association of County Human Services Administrators, the County Welfare Directors Association of California, and the Donaldson Adoption Institute, Inc.

Cynthia K. Booth, Executive Director of Child Advocates (Indianapolis):

"I am pleased to support Modernizing the Interstate Placement of Children in Foster Care Act proposed by Senator Todd Young. Delays to a permanent home are frustrating for a child, especially when those delays are caused by the outdated processing of paperwork. Too often in our advocacy for children, we have a placement in another state ready to accept the child and we must wait for "paperwork." This bill is underscores how all of us in the child welfare system should operate: what is best for the child."

John Sciamanna, Vice President of Public Policy for Child Welfare League of America

"The Child Welfare League of America supports the 'Modernizing the Interstate Placement of Children in Foster Care Act.' It is critical that states take the necessary steps to modernize the interstate compact and the process theyuse to place a child across state lines. When the best home and best interest of the child is with a family in another state the current process can sometimes fail.Research now shows that we can use 21st centuryinternet and digitaltechnology to speed up adoptions. With more than 112,000 waiting to be adopted that is in everybody's interest."

Sharon Pierce, President and CEO, The Villages of Indiana

"Senator Young's common sense legislation truly acknowledges that there is nothing more vital for an abused or neglected child, than making certain they are in the care of a loving adult, who is committed to be their "forever family", as quickly as possible. The vulnerable children which organizations like The Villages of Indiana are so privileged to serve are truly "hungry" for permanency and stability; and this proposal shortens that journey!"

Schylar Baber, Executive Director, Voice of Adoption

"In many adoption cases, the best placement for a child may be in another state. Currently, such placements are quite challenging to complete and can delay permanence and cause a child to linger in foster care. Voice for Adoption believes the federal government has a critical role to play in easing the process of interstate placements, and supports the NEICE program."