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MAJOR, QUIET victory for foster children

By Ann Tatko-Peterson
Wednesday, September 24th, 2008 at 6:05 am in Adoption.

20080104 Orphan(“Waiting for Baby” is a closer look at adoption and my family’s personal experience as we go through the process. It will appear every Wednesday in the aPARENTly Speaking blog.)

So much coming out of Washington right now focuses on the election and bailout of the financial industry. Perhaps that’s how a significant piece of legislation went unnoticed this week. For the first time in this century, Congress agreed on a major reform of child welfare laws. One major change includes extending federal foster care assistance until age 21 for those who are enrolled in school, working or otherwise engaged in “constructive” activities. The reform also provides a more concrete transitional plan for those who age out of the foster care system. Finally, lawmakers recognize that not all 18-year-olds are ready to be declared adults and left to fend for themselves.

Other key changes: Federal adoption assistance is now available to all special needs children. Before assistance was based on whether the birth parents were eligible for welfare. Also, the Adoption Incentives Program was extended and expanded, increasing the financial bonuses awarded to states for children adopted out of foster care. Both measures should help encourage more adoptions. For a full list of changes to the child welfare laws, read here.

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