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NEW CALIFORNIA LAWS AIM TO IMPROVE LIVES OF FOSTER, ADOPTED YOUTH
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed six bills into law on Oct. 11 intended to help foster and adopted youth in the state by: improving access to federal benefits for foster youth with disabilities by requiring counties to screen those between ages 16½ and 17½ for Social Security Insurance eligibility prior to emancipation (AB1331); reforming the current system of group care for foster children/youth to a system of "residentially based services" (AB1453); improving access to health and mental health services for foster and adopted youth placed outside their original counties of residence (AB1512); and providing public access to portions of records for foster youth who die as a result of abuse or neglect while in care (SB39). In addition, the governor signed legislation to create the Resource Family Pilot Program to establish a unified approval process for licensing foster families and approving foster and adoptive homes, as well as setting uniform standards for home approval and permanency plans. To read the press release and links to the bills, go to:
http://gov.ca.gov/index.php?/press-release/7679/; or go to http://www.legislature.ca.gov/port-bilinfo.html and search by bill number.
U.S. HOUSE PASSES REVISED CHILDREN'S HEALTH INSURANCE LEGISLATION
The U.S. House of Representatives passed revised legislation (HR3963) on Oct. 25 to reauthorize and expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) after failing to override President Bush's veto of a similar bill earlier in the month. The modified bill would raise funding for the program to $35 billion over the next five years, financed by an increase in the federal cigarette tax. SCHIP provides health insurance for children who are ineligible for Medicaid and unable to afford private health insurance; although most children in foster care receive Medicaid benefits, SCHIP would help youth aging out of the system who could otherwise not afford health care. The revised legislation is being considered in the Senate. To read the bill, go to:
http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search for HR3963 in the bill text field.
TEXAS NOW REQUIRES MEN TO REGISTER TO PRESERVE PATERNITY RIGHTS
A new law has gone into effect in Texas requiring any man who may have impregnated a woman to register in order to be notified if a resulting child is being relinquished for adoption. The legislation (HB3997) was signed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry on June 16 and went into effect Sept. 1. It would permit the state to terminate parental rights, without notice, of a father who has not registered paternity; under the old regulations, the state had to attempt to locate and notify birthfathers before parental rights could be terminated. The new law applies to requests for the termination of parental rights rendered on or after Jan. 1, 2008. To read the law, go to:
LONG-RANGE STUDY SUPPORTS NEED FOR ONGOING POST-ADOPTION SERVICES
Two articles based on the California Long-Range Adoption study were published in October/November journals. This study surveyed 688 adoptive families two, four, and eight years after adoption. The first article, "Adopted Foster Youths' Psychosocial Functioning: A Longitudinal Perspective," by Cassandra Simmel, and Institute Senior Fellows Richard Barth and Devon Brooks, is in the November issue of
Child and Family Social Work (Volume 12, Issue 4); it compared behavior problems of children adopted from foster care (n=293) with non-foster domestic adoptions (n=312), finding youth in the former group had significantly higher total scores at times 1 and 2, but not at time 3, with an increase in problems over time for both groups. While at first measure one-third of the sample scored above the 95th percentile of scores on the Behavior Problem Index; at 8 years out, close to one-half scored at this level. Findings support the need for ongoing support of adoptive families. For an abstract, go to:
The second article, "Influences of Risk History and Adoption Preparation on Post-Adoption Services Use in U.S. Adoptions," by Leslie Wind, Devon Brooks, and Richard Barth, is in the October issue of
Family Relations (Volume 56, Issue 4). This analysis found the usage of general post-adoption services (casework and support groups) increased over this time period (from 31 percent at two years to 81 percent at eight years) and usage of clinical post-adoption services increased from 9 to 31 percent over the six-year span. Most of the children were adopted at very young ages (83 percent by age 2). Adopting children with special needs and receiving general preparation services predicted greater utilization of clinical post-adoption services. This study supports the need for ongoing services. To access an abstract, go to:
STUDY FINDS CULTURAL SOCIALIZATION PREDICTS FEWER BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS
A study of 193 white mothers of 262 children adopted from China and Korea found that women who felt more connected to Asian Americans provided more frequent cultural socialization experiences for their children and that more cultural socialization was related to fewer externalizing behavior problems in their children. "Mothers' Racial, Ethnic, and Cultural Socialization of Transracially Adopted Asian Children," by Kristen Johnston, Janet Swim, Brian Saltsman, Kirby Deater-Deckard, and Stephen Petrill, is in the October issue of
Family Relations (Volume 56, Issue 4). The overall frequency of cultural socialization practices was low (several times a year), and the researchers suggest that increasing mothers' connections to Asian Americans may benefit their children. For an abstract, go to:
SCREENING SHOWS NEURODEVELOPMENTAL DAMAGE IN ABUSED CHILDREN
The Family Futures Consortium of London tested its hypothesis that a primary cause of behavioral difficulties by foster children referred for assessment was neurodevelopmental damage resulting from early neglect and abuse that led to weakness in executive functioning (functions located in the pre-frontal cortex associated with aspects of self-control and problem-solving). Screening of 86 referred children on a rating inventory of executive function showed that all scored low on these abilities. "Is It That They Won't Do It, Or Is It That They Can't? Executive Functioning and Children Who Have Been Fostered and Adopted," by Richard Lansdown, Alan Burnell, and Marion Allen, is in the most recent issue of
Adoption & Fostering (Volume 31, Issue 2). The authors recommend assessment of these skills in children and strategies for parents, teachers, and therapists to rehabilitate the children. To access an abstract, go to:
PROJECT FINDS FOSTER CARE REIMBURSEMENTS FALL SHORT OF ACTUAL COSTS
A project report, "Hitting the M.A.R.C: Establishing Foster Care Minimum Adequate Rates for Children," was released this month by Children's Rights, the National Foster Parent Association, and the University of Maryland School of Social Work. The report for the first time calculated the actual cost of caring for a foster child in the United States today. It found that foster care reimbursement rates across the country fall about 36 percent short of what is needed and proposes that the federal government put in place a minimum allowable foster care reimbursement rate, with required cost-of-living increases. To download the report, visit:
ANALYSIS IDENTIFIES RESILIENCE FACTORS IN YOUTHS AGING OUT OF CARE
Based on computer-assisted, self-administered interviews with 100 youths age 18 or older who left foster care, researchers identified personal and interpersonal factors contributing to resilience: female gender, older age at exiting care, lower perceived life stress, higher levels of social support, and greater spiritual support. "Resilience of Youth in Transition from Out-of-Home Care to Adulthood," by Clara Daining and Diane DePanfilis, is in the September issue of
Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 29, Issue 9). The authors review promising practices for fostering resilience and building support systems for older youth in care. To access an abstract, go to:
GUATEMALAN OFFICIALS SAY PENDING ADOPTION CASES WON'T BE BLOCKED
President Oscar Berger said that new adoption legislation that Guatemala promises to pass before the nation's presidential election on Nov. 4 is intended to bring the country into compliance with the Hague Convention on intercountry adoption and is not intended to interfere with U.S. families already in the process of adoption, according to an Oct. 16 article in the
International Herald Tribune. The Associated Press article, "Guatemalan President Says He's Not Trying to Stop U.S. Families from Adopting Babies," said it has not been clear how the approximately 3,700 pending adoptions of Guatemalan children will be effected by the new legislation (effective Jan. 1, 2008, if passed). One government official was reported as saying these cases will not be stopped but will be scrutinized to ensure individual children were legally relinquished and "not stolen or obtained under duress" or paid for with exorbitant fees. To read the article, go to:
RISE IN FOSTER CARE NUMBERS IN ALABAMA ATTRIBUTED TO METH ABUSE
According to Alabama's Department of Human Resources, the number of children placed in foster care because of parental drug abuse has risen from 58 cases in fiscal year 2000 to 585 cases in 2005, with most involving crystal methamphetamine (meth) abuse. According to an Oct. 13
Birmingham News article, "Alabama: Foster Care Rolls Spike Because of Parents on Meth" by William Thornton, the cheaply produced and easily acquired drug has unique and dangerous effects on children, their parents and child welfare workers who are exposed. For instance, most clothing of a child exposed to meth has to be discarded as a result of possible chemical contamination. The state is providing specialized training for child welfare workers to deal with these cases. To read the article, go to:
BULLETIN OFFERS GUIDANCE FOR ACCESSING EARLY INTERVENTION SERVICES
A bulletin prepared by the Child Welfare Information Gateway, entitled "Addressing the Needs of Young Children in Child Welfare: Part C - Early Intervention Services," offers guidance for accessing services for children age 3 and under who are involved in substantiated cases of child abuse or neglect. The report also presents promising state strategies for implementation of Part C of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, and recommends resources. To access, go to:
A curriculum, "Supervisory Training: Putting the Pieces Together," also is available on the website. The curriculum, authored by Charmaine Brittain at the University of Denver School of Social Work, contains three modules on administrative, educational and supportive supervision. Among the components are a 126-page manual, another 67-page manual, a training outline, Power Point slides, and a bibliography. To access the curriculum, go to:
A teleconference on supervision is scheduled for Nov. 8. "Supervisory Case Reviews: Tools to Monitor and Improve Practice" will concentrate on the use of regular, structured case reviews with caseworkers focused on desired outcomes and practices. Speakers will be featured from Oklahoma and Missouri, two states that have developed supervisory review processes. To access information on the teleconference, go to:
EVIDENCE INDICATES OPENNESS IN ADOPTION BENEFITS ALL PARTIES
In an article by Maggie Jones published on Oct. 28 in the New York Times Magazine, "Looking for Their Children's Birthmothers," on the experiences of Americans searching for birth relatives in intercountry adoptions, Adoption Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman comments on aspects of the issues involved. He says that in domestic infant adoptions, some of the questions adoptees had were a product of the secrecy surrounding adoptions in the 1950s and 1960s and have diminished as a result of the practice of open adoption (in which birth and adoptive parents maintain some level of contact after placement); although these relationships are complex, research has indicated open arrangements can be beneficial for adopted persons, as well as birth and adoptive parents. To read the article, go to:
ETHICS IN ADOPTION CONFERENCE BREAKS NEW GROUND, FORWARDS DIALOGUE
The Adoption Institute cosponsored a highly success conference on Oct. 15 and 16, "Adoption Ethics & Accountability," with Ethica in Arlington, VA. Hundreds of participants from across the U.S. and other countries - including some of the foremost experts, researchers and policy-makers in the fields of adoption and foster care - attended and presented. Photos, audio files, comments from participants, and other information about the conference are being prepared and will be posted on the Adoption Institute website in coming days at:
http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/events/ethics_2007.php. Meanwhile, please go to the event site, http://www.ethicsconference.net/, to order audio CD's of the presentations or to see who presented and what content was included.
INSTITUTE HOLDS SUCCESSFUL L.A. FUNDRAISER; NEXT EVENT COMING UP
The Adoption Institute hosted a fabulous fundraiser in Los Angeles on Oct. 25, with scores of supporters attending an enjoyable, enlightening and delicious (great food!) evening at a beautiful Beverly Hills home. Ticket sales, corporate sponsorships and silent auction items raised more than $60,000 for the Institute, and all expenses for the event were covered by our generous hosts, Peter Levine and Eric Mathre. Corporate sponsors included the Creative Artists Agency; the law firm of Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren & Richman, L.L.P.; City National Bank; and major studios and production companies including Universal, Sony, Kennedy/Marshall, and Disney. Corporate sponsors are being recognized in a full-page (and fully donated) ad in Variety Magazine. The benefit committee for the event included many celebrities in the entertainment industry concerned with improving adoption, including actors Sara Jessica Parker, Zooey Deschanel, Bette Midler, Helen Hunt, and Rita Wilson. To see pictures from the event, go to:
There is still time to purchase tickets for the Institute's Boston Benefit Concert on Nov. 9, "Rockin' for Our Kids."
The event, which will celebrate National Adoption Month, takes place at the Spring Valley Country Club in suburban Sharon, MA, and will feature a special performance by Danny Klein's Full House, led by an original founding member of the J. Geils Band. In addition to the live entertainment, the event will include cocktails, dinner and a silent auction. To see the invitation and/or purchase tickets using our secure PayPal site, go to:
http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/events/rockinkids_2007.php; or you can print and mail or fax a response card to secure tickets, here:
http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/events/rockinticketpurchaseform.pdf. Discounts are available for groups and adoption professionals.
To inquire about an individual or corporate sponsorship, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
And you may not have your 2008 calendar yet, but it's never too soon to save the date for our Taste of Spring benefit on May 14, 2008. Our fourth annual food and wine benefit in New York City will be as fun and entertaining as ever!
If you are interested in hosting an event in your area, please contact Laura James at email@example.com. And if parties are not "your thing," we welcome direct support of our work! Some of our current projects available for support include:
• RESTORING RIGHTS TO ACCESS
• ADOPTIVE PARENT PREPARATION
• SAFE HAVENS: ARE THE LAWS
• TRANSCULTURAL ADOPTION
• ADOPTION AGENCY PRACTICES WITH
GAYS AND LESBIANS
• RIGHTS & WELL-BEING OF
• EXPANDING RESOURCES FOR
CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE
• EDUCATE THE EDUCATORS AND
EDUCATE THE MEDIA PROGRAMS
Since its establishment in 1996, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute has been a pre-eminent, independent voice for improving adoption for everyone it touches - particularly children - through innovative programs, educational initiatives, research and analysis, and advocacy for better practices, policies and laws.
Our award-winning web site, www.adoptioninstitute.org/old, is a popular and reliable source for accurate adoption information.
Support Our Work
The Adoption Institute was established in 1996 with a one-time grant. To continue our work, we depend on new and renewable sources of funding. We need the financial support of people like you whose lives have been touched by adoption and who care
about the future of vulnerable children everywhere. Please send a generous contribution to the Adoption Institute’s annual fund today. To donate, please call 212-925-4089 or go online to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/about/support.php,
or print and complete this form http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/donate/donatereply.pdf,
and fax it to 775-796-6592, or mail it with your check or credit card information to:
The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
120 East 38th Street
New York, NY 10016
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