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Strategies

Increase Exits from Foster Care to Permanence through Adoption

Strategies

When children in foster care cannot return home, adoption is the best possible option for long term security with a family. Timely adoptions can ensure that children don’t experience the negative outcomes associated with staying in care too long or aging out of foster care with no permanent home.    

What Can Policymakers Do? 

  • Ensure adequate subsidy payments Policymakers can ensure that adoption subsidies are at least equal to what a child received while in foster care and adequate to meet their needs. 
  • Establish a commission to identify adoption barriers.  Arizona created a Joint Legislative Committee on Adoption Promotion to study and make recommendations on improving the effectiveness of the adoption process. [i]
  • Provide for continuous court jurisdiction.  In some jurisdictions, bureaucratic court processes or the manner in which a child enters foster care can result in a child’s case being handled by more than one judge.  Efforts to ensure that there is one judge to stick with a child’s case throughout the permanency process can provide greater consistency and timeliness to court decisions.  New York statute sets guidelines for streamlining court processes so that a child’s case remains with the same judge from the moment a child enters foster care through final disposition.  In the past, there were numerous barriers to continuous jurisdiction. [ii]
  • Examine timeframes for Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) .  TPR proceedings can often be lengthy and contentious, and create significant delays to a final adoption. Child welfare agencies often do not begin adoption proceedings until a TPR order has been established.  Streamlining the TPR process can significantly improve time to adoption.  Georgia law requires hearings to terminate parental rights to be held 90 days from when the petition is filed. [iii]   Tennessee statute requires that the TPR hearing be held within 6 months of the petition. [iv]
  • Establish state adoption tax credits.  A state tax credit can help defray the cost of adoption and create an additional incentive on top of the federal tax credit.  Rhode Island statute allows families eligible for the federal adoption tax credit to claim a credit against state income tax as well. [v] 
  • Fund post-adoption supports and services.   Texas [vi] and South Dakota [vii] laws fund supportive services for adoptive families including financial assistance,  respite care, placement services, parenting programs, support groups, counseling, crisis intervention and medical aid.

Guidance                for Child Welfare Administrators. Policies and practices to address the racial disproportionality and disparities in state and local child welfare systems.