Congress Passes Adoption Promotion Act of 2003
On Friday, November 14th, the Senate passed the House version of The Adoption Promotion Act of 2003. The legislation extends the ASFA-created Adoption Incentive Program for another five years and focus greater attention on finding adoptive families for older children in foster care.
The bill authorizes $43 million per year in performance-based incentives to states that are successful in increasing the number of children adopted from foster care. The bonus program, first created as part of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, has contributed to the substantial increase in adoptions in recent years–from 31,000 in fiscal year 1997 to approximately 51,000 in fiscal year 2002.
Despite recent progress made, many more children are in need of adoptive families. At the end of fiscal year 2002, 532,698 children remained in foster care, and 116,653 of the children in foster care had adoption as their permanent placement goal. About half of the children waiting to be adopted are over the age of nine. Today, national data show that a child over the age of nine is more likely to remain in foster care through his or her 18th birthday than to find an adoptive home.
The Adoption Promotion Act of 2003 is intended to change that statistic by encouraging states to focus greater effort on finding adoptive families for children ages nine and older. Under the legislation the Adoption Incentive Program will now include a targeted bonus for states successful in increasing the number of older children adopted from foster care, as well as continue to recognize overall progress in increasing adoptions from foster care.
For a 2001 report on how the money was spent last time see A Carrot Among the Sticks: The Adoption Incentive Bonus