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HHS AWARDS $35M TO STATES FOR INCREASING ADOPTIONS FROM FOSTER CARE
A Sept. 14 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services press release, "HHS Awards $35 Million to States for Increasing Adoptions," reports that the agency provided that sum to 38 states and Puerto Rico for boosting the number of children adopted from foster care. According to Child Welfare League of America's Sept. 21 Children's Monitor Online, "Both numbers reflect a significant increase over the past several years. Generally, less than 20 states have been qualifying for the funds and HHS has given out less than $15 million per year." The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (PL 110-351) provided greater incentives to states to increase their adoption rates generally and special needs adoptions specifically. States are to use the awards to "enhance their programs for abused and neglected children." To read the press release, go to: http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2009pres/09/20090914a.html; to read CWLA's Children's Monitor Online, go to: http://www.cwla.org/advocacy/monitoronline-issueHL.asp?ISSUEID=250#HL_1615.
POLICY INSTITUTE AIMS TO INCREASE CHILDREN WHO MOVE TO PERMANENCY
According to a Sept. 15 National Governors Association's press release, "NGA Center for Best Practices Selects States to Participate in Policy Institute on Foster Care," NGA chose 12 states for "Changing the Outcome: Achieving and Sustaining a Safe Reduction in Foster Care." The policy institute, in collaboration with the National Conference of State Legislatures and Casey Family Programs, is designed to assist states in improving outcomes for vulnerable children and safely reducing the number of children in foster care. To reach these objectives, the institute will cover "prevention and community services provided to families so that fewer children enter care; shortening the timing that children spend in foster care and increasing the number of children who reach permanency through reunification, subsidized guardianship and adoption." NGA selected Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin to take part in the institute. To read the press release, go to:
SENATE CONFIRMS NEW HEAD OF ADMINISTRATION FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
A Sept. 23 U.S. Health and Human Services press release "HHS Secretary Sebelius Announces Senate Confirmation of Carmen Nazario as Assistant Secretary for Children and Families," reports that the Senate unanimously approved Nazario for the post. Nazario will be responsible for directing HHS' Administration for Children and Families. She has over 40 years of human services experience in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. The Senate Finance Committee will hold confirmation hearings on Oct. 1 for Bryan Samuels, formerly Director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, for the post of Commissioner on Children, Youth, and Families. The spot for head of the Children’s Bureau remains vacant. To read the press release, go to:
http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2009pres/09/20090923a.html; to access the Senate Finance Committee's hearing webpage, go to: http://finance.senate.gov/sitepages/hearing100109.html.
EVALUATION FINDS GEORGIA ATTACHMENT THERAPY PROGRAM IS EFFECTIVE
An attachment therapy program funded by the Georgia Office of Adoptions examined the effectiveness of attachment therapy with 24 adopted children diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder, and found that post-test scores on two standardized measures evidenced a significant reduction in problems. "A Preliminary Investigation of the Effectiveness of Attachment Therapy for Adopted Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder," by Jane Wimmer, Elizabeth Vonk and Patrick Bordnick, is in the most recent issue of Child and Adolescent Social Work (Volume 26, Issue 4). The attachment therapy consisted of parent education and skills training, family-focused counseling, and a focus on intensive bonding of the child and parent; it was provided by five therapy teams receiving training from Children Unlimited of South Carolina. To access an abstract, go to:
DEVELOPMENT OF CHILDREN WITH RAD LAGS 5 YEARS BEHIND AGE LEVEL
A descriptive study of 57 adopted and foster children with a diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder and a history of maltreatment compares their developmental age (mean=4.4 years as measured by the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales) to their chronological age (9.9 years), finding a mean of 5.5 years difference between the two. "Effects of Early Maltreatment on Development: A Descriptive Study Using the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales-II," by Arthur Becker-Weidman, was published in the spring issue of Child Welfare (Volume 88, Issue 2). The study found older youth (mean age=14) showed significantly greater maladaptive behavior than did the younger children, underscoring the need to begin treatment as early as possible and with interventions having evidence of effectiveness—Hughes' Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy is recommended. Also, parenting approaches based on developmental age of these children is important. The abstracts for this issue have not yet been made available online.
HAGUE TREATY SEEN BRINGING BOTH POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES
A qualitative study of international adoption workers' predictions of the manifest and latent consequences of the Hague Convention (interviews conducted prior to U.S. implementation) reported a mix of positive as well as unintended negative consequences, with positives including more ethical adoption practices in the U.S. and sending countries, standardization of practice, greater transparency on costs, and better protection of children against child selling. "Expectations of the Consequences of New International Adoption Policy in the U.S.," by Jo Bailey, was published in the June issue of the Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare (Volume 36, Issue 2). Possible negative consequences included smaller agencies closing and very few new agencies able to start up; the additional paperwork and training would lengthen the adoption process, deter some applicants and cause children to have longer institutional stays; and accreditation costs of $7,000-$12,000 per agency would be passed on to families. To access an abstract, go to:
BRIEF EXAMINES JUDGES' ATTITUDES ON TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS
A Child Trends research brief based on interviews with 20 judges in 18 states explores the jurists' perspectives in decision-making about termination of parental rights (TPR) and adoption of foster children. "The Timing of Termination of Parental Rights: A Balancing Act for Children's Best Interests," by Raquel Ellis, Karin Malm and Erin Bishop, reports that parent factors rather than children's feelings were usually the basis for changing the permanency goal to adoption. Seventy-five percent of judges did not require a child's consent to set a goal of adoption, but 60 percent either required or desired child consent to an adoption by a particular family. Forty-five percent of judges expressed concerns about creating "legal orphans." Suggestions for addressing these concerns included gaining more information about adoption recruitment efforts, considering making a family visitation order at TPR hearings, opening adoptions, and implementing post-adoption contact agreements. To access this brief, go to:
FEWER CHINESE FEMALE INFANTS AVAILABLE FOR INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION
A Sept. 25 article in the Financial Times, "Adopted Chinese daughters seek their roots" by Patti Waldmeir, reports that "China has invited thousands of foundlings back to their birthplaces for government-sponsored ‘homeland tours'." At the same time, the reporter’s visit to the city of Yangzhou's orphanage found that annual adoptions have decreased from 150 to 10-20 and there are few healthy female infants available for adoption, a trend apparent across the country. According to the article, "Exact figures are impossible to come by, but most adoption professionals both within and outside the Chinese government agree that the number of healthy abandoned girls in China has declined dramatically," and the waiting time for prospective parents to adopt a healthy infant girl is three to five years. To read the article, go to:
MANY 'SAFE HAVEN' BABIES REPORTEDLY BORN AND ABANDONED IN HOSPITALS
According to "Many 'Safe Haven' babies actually born, left in hospitals" by Rita Price in the Sept. 27 edition of The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio and other states' "safe haven" laws are being used by women who deliver their babies in hospitals, instead of the intended population – distressed women who have concealed their pregnancies and given birth alone. One county had six "safe haven" cases, all babies who were born in hospitals; another county had two out of three cases born in hospitals and yet another county had two cases where both babies were born in hospitals. The state does not keep records of "safe haven" abandonments but the estimates range from a total of 52 to 70. The article says that "a large majority" of babies abandoned under the law in Michigan were born in hospitals, as were 22 of 24 "safe haven" babies in Kentucky. The article quotes Child Welfare League of America’s vice president of policy, Linda Spears, as stating, "I don't think these are the cases that safe havens were intended for. We are very concerned that these laws are not responsive to the problems." To read the article, go to:
http://www.columbusdispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2009/09/27/havens.html?sid=101; to read the Adoption Institute's report on this topic, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/whowe/Last%20report.pdf.
RESEARCH LOOKS AT TRENDS, BARRIERS AND SUCCESS FACTORS IN ADOPTION The Roundtable (Volume 23, Issue 1), published by the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Adoption, offers a summary of national AFCARS data on adoption trends, as well as the highlights of a study on barriers and success factors in adoptions from foster care. "A New Look at the Role of ASFA and Children's Ages in Adoption," by Penny Maza, reports that the average time from removal to termination of parental rights has declined by 14 months, and the time from removal to adoption has declined by almost a year since the passage of ASFA. Although there was an increase in the number of adoptions from FY 1997 to FY2000 (31,000 to 51,000), the number has leveled off in subsequent years.
"Barriers and Success Factors in Adoptions from Foster Care: Perspectives of Families and Staff," by Ruth McRoy (an Institute Senior Research Fellow), describes primary findings of two studies on the process of adopting a child from the child welfare system. Primary barriers to adoption identified by families included agency communication and responsiveness, emotional support and interjurisdictional issues. Staff identified an inadequate pool of families and the lack of post-adoption services as barriers. Success in finalizing adoptions was associated with parental commitment, child progress, parent-child bonding, and realistic expectations and parental preparation for children with special needs. To access summaries of these reports, go to:
NACAC SUGGESTS USING INCENTIVE AWARDS FOR POST-ADOPTION SERVICES
The Summer issue of Adoptalk, published by the North American Council on Adoptable Children, contains an article by Executive Director Joe Kroll and Diane Riggs, "Fund Post-Adoption Services with Adoption Incentive Awards." They recommend that states' increased opportunities to earn more adoption incentive funds (provided by the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 and a $36.5 million appropriation) be maximized, and that these awards be designated for post-adoption services. Strategies for accomplishing these goals are discussed. To access the article, go to: http://www.nacac.org/adoptalk/incentivepost-adopt.html.
NCFA RELEASES RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVING FOSTER CARE SYSTEM
The National Council for Adoption released its recommendations for improving the foster care system in the September issue of Adoption Advocate (Issue 17). The article, entitled "Finding Permanence for Kids: NCFA Recommendations for Immediate Improvement to the Foster Care System," by Elisa Rosman, Chuck Johnson and Marc Zappala, notes that the number of children aging out of care each year without permanency has steadily increased, reaching 26,517 in FY2006. Some of the recommendations discussed include foster and adoptive parent recruitment and retention, standardized adoption subsidies, increased funding for pre- and post-adoption support, getting more adults involved with foster children and support/training for child welfare workers. To access this article, go to:
MATT DONALDSON HIKES THE GRAND CANYON TO BENEFIT THE INSTITUTE
Matt Donaldson will spend the weekend of Oct. 24-25 hiking through the Grand Canyon to raise support for the Adoption Institute. Matt, a long-time friend and former Adoption Institute Board member, is the son of the late Evan B. Donaldson, an adoptive mother and devoted advocate for children in need of permanent, loving homes. An avid outdoorsman, Matt undertakes a physical challenge each year to raise funds for the Institute's programs, thereby honoring his mother and helping continue the vital work she cared so deeply about. Last year, Matt rode his bike 100 miles through the Colorado Rocky Mountains as part of the Leadville Trail 100, and in previous years, he has completed the Iron Man Triathlon. To support Matt's efforts this year (and provide much-needed support to the Institute in these difficult financial times), you can send your check to the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, 120 E. 38th Street, New York, NY 10016. Please write "Matt Donaldson" or "Grand Canyon" on the memo line of the check. You can also donate online by going to: http://www.guidestar.org/partners/networkforgood/donate.jsp?ein=13-3904148 or go to our website’s support page: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/about/support.php. Please put "Matt Donaldson" or "Grand Canyon" in the designation box. Finally, you can also donate by emailing Laura James, External Relations Director, at [email protected] or calling her at (212) 925-4089.
SAVE THE DATE: THIS YEAR'S SPRING BENEFIT SCHEDULED FOR MAY 13, 2010
This year's "Taste of Spring," the Institute's major fundraising event of the year, will be held on Thursday, May 13, 2010, at the Midtown Loft in New York City. Last year, guests got to mingle with stars including Hugh Jackman, Bette Midler and Kristin Chenoweth while tasting gourmet foods prepared and served in person by master chefs Jean-Georges Vongrichten, David Burke, Jonathan Waxman and Zarela Martinez, among others. We've already begun the planning for another joyous, delicious evening in support of our unique, important work, and hope you can join us.
INSTITUTE’S LOS ANGELES BENEFIT POSTPONED UNTIL FEB. 3, 2010
The next Adoption Institute Benefit in Los Angeles has been moved from November 2009 to Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2010, to accommodate the schedule of our generous hosts and the many celebrities that make this event exceptional. This is always a fun party, full of movie and television stars, and movers and shakers in the entertainment industry, all devoted to supporting the work of the Institute to make adoption fairer and more beneficial for everyone it touches. The event will be at a private home, so please contact Laura James at [email protected] or (212) 925-4089 for information on sponsorship opportunities and on how to attend.
If star-studded benefit parties are not "your thing," please consider helping our work go forward by:
• Making a donation - and asking friends and relatives to honor birthdays and
anniversaries with gifts to the Institute
• Making a gift to the Institute in a loved one's honor or memory
• Including the Institute in your estate plans
• Using your contacts to introduce us to foundations, corporations and
other sources of support
• Making "in-kind" donations of computer equipment, air miles and hotel vouchers
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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