The Adoption Opportunities Program eliminates barriers to adoption and helps to find permanent families for children who would benefit by adoption, particularly children with special needs. The five major program areas, as mandated by the legislation, are: (1) the development and implementation of a national adoption and foster care data gathering and analysis system; (2) the development and implementation of a national adoption information exchange system; (3) the development and implementation of an adoption training and technical assistance program; (4) increasing the placements in adoptive families of minority children who are in foster care and have the goal of adoption with a special emphasis on recruitment of minority families; and (5) post-legal adoption services for families who have adopted children with special needs. A total of $25 million will be distributed through this program in FY1999.
The Child Welfare Training Program upgrades the skills and qualifications of child welfare workers through their participation, full-time or part-time, in programs focused specifically on child welfare services. Discretionary grants are awarded to public and private non-profit institutions of higher learning to develop and improve education/training programs and resources for child welfare service providers. The FY1999 funding level for these activities is $7 million.
The Child Welfare Research and Demonstration Program strengthens the family as the primary agent responsible for the developmental needs of children and youth. The Administration for Children, Youth and Families funds research, demonstration, dissemination, utilization and technical assistance activities in four basic areas: child welfare, child care, youth development, and child and family development. The resources budgeted for these four areas address the needs and problems confronting some of the most vulnerable children and families in the country: children in foster care, children in need of adoptive homes, children from poor families who require child care, and vulnerable youth who are runaways or homeless. No funds have been appropriated for this program since Fiscal Year 1995.
The Abandoned Infants Assistance Program is intended for development, implementation and operation of projects to demonstrate how to (1) prevent abandonment; (2) identify and address needs of abandoned infants, especially those with AIDS; (3) assist these children to reside with their natural families if possible, or in foster care; (4) recruit, train and retain foster parents; (5) carry out residential care programs for abandoned children and children with AIDS; (6) establish programs of respite care for families and foster families; (7)recruit and train health and social services personnel to work with families, foster families and residential care staff. Grants are made to public and nonprofit private entities. This program has enjoyed stable funding of $12.25 million per year for a number of years.
The Child Abuse Prevention & Treatment Act Research and Demonstration Projects are funds which support research on the causes, prevention, and treatment of child abuse and neglect; demonstration programs to identify the best means of preventing maltreatment and treating troubled families; and the development and implementation of training programs. Grants for these projects are provided nationwide on a competitive basis to state and local agencies and organizations. Projects have focused on every aspect of the prevention, identification, investigation, and treatment of child abuse and neglect. In FY 1999, approximately $14.2 million in discretionary funds will be awarded to support new and continuing research and demonstration grants, as well as evaluation, technical assistance and information dissemination activities.