Is adoption the best option Child Protective Services has to offer families in crisis?

Village idiots and political

Village idiots and political parties aside, how can child's best interest be taken seriously when final placement is all based on a government's desire to make and keep money?

Adoption is just one source of serious income.  Saving money is another way money can be generated for "special interests".  How safe are families and children through CPS?  Ask your public servants what's being done to keep their best interests intact.

The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA, Public Law 105-89) was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on November 19, 1997 after having been approved by the United States Congress earlier in the month.[1]

AFSA was enacted in an attempt to correct problems that were inherent in the foster care system that deterred the adoption of children with special needs. Many of these problems had stemmed from an earlier bill, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980,[1] although they had not been anticipated when that law was passed in as states decided to intrepet that law as requiring biological families be kept together no matter what.[1] The biggest change to the law was how ASFA amended Title IV-E of the Social Security Act regarding funding.

Moreover, AFSA marked a fundamental change to child welfare thinking, shifting weight towards childrens' health and safety concerns at the expense of reuniting with birth parents no matter the level of abusiveness.[1] En such, AFSA was considered the most sweeping change to the U.S. adoption and foster care system in some two decades.[1] One of AFSA's lead sponsors, Republican Senator John H. Chafee of Rhode Island, said, "We will not continue the current system of always putting the needs and rights of the biological parents first. ... It's time we recognize that some families simply cannot and should not be kept together."[1]

Ideas for the bill originated with both Democrats and Republicans.[2] First Lady of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton originally voiced interest in the issue of orphaned children in an article she wrote in 1995.[3] She then held public events to give the issue exposure,[3][2] and meet with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials and private foundation executives over policy questions and recommendations.[3] The bill began in Congress with bipartisan support, then became contentious over issues of terminating birth parents' rights to children and funding levels for programs to keep children out of foster care.[2] Hillary Clinton played a key role in finding a compromise between Republicans and Democrats on the latter issue after negotiations first broke down.[2]

In greeting the final measure, Bill Clinton stated that the bill "makes clear that children's health and safety are the paramount concerns."[1]

Can anyone afford more of the same?

All candidates are PRO

Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama  and John McCain are all members of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption.  So not much good to expect of them on the issue of adoption.

John McCain 's 2000 run for President got messed up by a smear campaign about his adoption from Bangladesh - where his wife rescued a child.

Just found this interesting website that lists the adoption connection of US Presidents


And what about Obama - putting 'equality' before children's rights?

Barack Obama promises full equality in adoption laws. Asks for support in message to LGBT Americans.

Seems like a lose-lose situation, whoever wins...

Behind the books

Here's something I read, that I found quite interesting in wikipedia: 

"In 2004, Clinton released a personal autobiography, My Life. The book was published by the Knopf Publishing Group at Random House on June 22, 2004, and set a worldwide record for single day non-fiction book sales according to the publisher.[91] Later released as an audio book, total sales were in excess of 400,000 copies. He received U.S. $12 million in advance as a writer's fee.[92]

In September 2007, he released a second book, Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World, which also became a bestseller.[93] The book is about citizen activism and the role of public charity and public service in the modern world.[94]"

I wonder how much money earned from individual book-sales alone each candidate could contribute towards programs that could and would provide better child and family-services?  For instance, imagine each candidate donating their writing sign-on fees to programs that support family-preservation... think that could help bring changes to poorly funded programs?

11 years ago

Here is an article from the Newyork Times, that gives a pretty good explanation of the Adoption and Safe Families Act. I wonder how much "the children's health and safety" has turned sour just because of that Bill.

November 17, 1997

Clinton to Approve Sweeping Shift in Adoption

President Clinton is preparing to sign into law the most sweeping changes to the nation's adoption and foster-care system in nearly two decades.

The changes, approved by Congress last week as it wrapped up its work for the year, are intended to make it easier to remove children from abusive families and speed up their adoption.

The new legislation marks a fundamental shift in child-welfare philosophy, away from a presumption that everything should be done to reunite children with their birth parents, even if the parents have been abusive. The legislation would instead give more weight to the child's health and safety.

Senator John H. Chafee, the Rhode Island Republican who was a leading sponsor of the legislation, said on the Senate floor before the measure passed by a voice vote: ''We will not continue the current system of always putting the needs and rights of the biological parents first.'' Although that is a worthy goal, he said, ''it's time we recognize that some families simply cannot and should not be kept together.''

The new legislation would require states to set up a permanent-placement plan for a child after one year of foster care, as opposed to after 18 months under current rules. The courts would have to terminate parental rights after a child has been in a foster home for 15 of the previous 22 months -- and almost immediately if there is evidence of severe abuse, including abandonment, torture or physical or sexual abuse, or if the parent has caused the death of a sibling.

The legislation also would provide cash bonuses to states that increase their adoptions, giving them $4,000 for each child adopted above the previous year's number and $6,000 for each adoption of a child who is older or has some physical or emotional disability.

Even if the legislation eliminates certain hurdles to adoption, some child-welfare experts said that it was only a first step toward improving the sprawling, fragmented foster-care system, which encompasses a half-million children.

The Federal Government, which provides some cash assistance for foster care and sets standards for the use of that money, has little actual control over the system, which is administered state by state. ''There is very little at the Federal level that we can do,'' a top Congressional aide conceded. ''But we want to send a signal that we don't like what we see.''

The numbers of children in foster care climb every year and are now up 89 percent from 1982 levels. Experts attribute the increase to a combination of social problems, including drug abuse, AIDS and teen-age parenthood, which are responsible in some cases for a new and severe level of child abuse.

But the average number of children in foster care who are adopted has held steady, at about 20,000 per year, according to the W. K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Mich., a nonprofit organization trying to improve health and education. The children who are adopted spend an average of three and a half years to five and a half years in foster homes before finding permanent homes.

Children in foster care are generally perceived as hard to adopt. Many are older, some have major disabilities and some come from severely abusive homes. Some are part of sibling groups that do not want to be broken up.

In addition, many middle-class families who are looking for children want healthy white infants and can more readily find them through private adoption agencies, private lawyers or overseas.

About 63 percent of children in the American foster-care system are nonwhite, according to the Kellogg Foundation. About 47 percent are black, almost three times the percent of black children in the population at large. President Clinton signed legislation last year to remove barriers to cross-racial adoptions. Some agencies believed it was inappropriate for families of one race to adopt a child of another race, which had the effect of slowing the adoption of black children by white families. Experts said it was not clear yet what effect the removal of those barriers has had.

Another reason so many children languish in foster care is a 1980 law that requires courts to make ''reasonable efforts'' to reunite them with their biological families before parental rights can be severed and the children can be legally available for adoption. Of the 500,000 children in foster care now, only about 100,000 have had their parental rights terminated and are free for adoption.

It is the interpretations of the 1980 law that the current legislation seeks to change. MaryLee Allen, director of the child welfare and mental-health division of the Children's Defense Fund, said that state courts had widely interpreted the 1980 law as a directive to keep biological families together at all costs.

In a statement saying he was eager to sign the legislation, President Clinton said the bill "makes clear that children's health and safety are the paramount concerns." He said the bill would help meet his goal of doubling the number of adoptions by 2002.

Here in the UK where money

Here in the UK where money does not play such a large part in adoption fortunately, but secrecy and identity misappropriation still do, I'm hopping the new 'Special Guardianship' arrangements will be used a lot more than adoption in the future. Early days to see how that's working out. But at least the practise of giving extra government money to local authorities which surpass adoption targets has been dropped, which is good news. The promotion of fostering as way to make extra income, the big posters at my local supermarket telling me I could get £11000 pa tax free if I pop down to County Hall and get my self a kid. OK it's not really that easy, but fostering should not be promoted as a way of making income.

Options to Adoption

For those who don't know what other options there are for broken familes, allow me to introduce a program from Kentucky.  [Yes... Kentucky!]

The National Family Preservation Network's mission is to serve as the primary national voice for the preservation of families through Intensive Family Preservation and Reunification Services (IFPS & IFRS). NFPN has developed a comprehensive fatherhood initiative, because fathers are an integral part of families. We believe that children deserve to remain safely with their families when possible, and that all efforts must be made to reunite children with their families, when it is safe to do so.

NFPN provides the vision, leadership, training, tools, and resources to assist policy makers and practitioners to build on a family's strengths and to preserve family bonds so children can be protected and nurtured at home.

Please take a little time to read through our Web site. Below you will find some of our current articles and news stories, or watch our short introduction video.

CPS continued

During my stay at CPS, I also learned of one thing THAT WORKED.  Categorically, hands down, worked.  You mention it above, Intensive Family Preservation and Reunification Services.  In my state it is called Homebuilders.

It's a wonderful program - trained sociologists practically live with the at risk family in an intensive program - they are there to expose and arrest dysfunctional behavior as it is being played out - they teach families in a supportive, non-threatening way how to communicate and teach parents better tools for coping.  To have someone around at the most crucial times of the day, every day, for many many days, To have that person catch and call out and question all potentially hurtful or  harmful actions, to have them talk about their values and hopes and the meaning of family, has a deep impact on troubled stressed parents who have few skills and react without thinking.  It has a phenomenal success rate. 

Unfortunately, very few families get this kind of help due to, once again, lack of funding.

I also found some other interesting preventative strategies on this National Coalition for Child Protection Reform website
Twelve Ways to do Child Welfare Right

Public Interest

I often wonder (rhetorically in my own mind...) "why isn't there more funding for Family Preservation Programs?"  They exist all over the place, but they silmply don't get enough support and attention from those who can really make these programs WORK!

One of our members, Mary, mentioned a program months ago that really went that extra mile to serve and educate mothers and their children... and yet doing a little reading into who's helping these programs stay afloat, it becomes painfully obvious to see where most big-pockets are going:  private money keeps assisting adoption programs, not broken families.  [Mary's thread, "Thoughts on Placement", can be found here: ]

You have one side of humanity working to keep families together... and another side of investors looking to create new families.

I don't need to be a math genius to know who is going to lose that fund-raising humanitarian effort.

Pound Pup Legacy