The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (Public Law 105-89) established that a child’s health and safety must be of paramount concern in any efforts made by a State to preserve or reunify a child’s family. ACF’s Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, and Independent Living programs have demonstrated success in improving safety, permanency of living arrangements, and well-being of children. Working with the States, these programs minimize disruptions to the continuity of family and other relationships for children in foster care by decreasing the number of placement settings per year for a child in care. The programs also met goals to provide children in foster care with permanency and stability in their living situations by improving the timeliness of reunification, if possible, and promoting guardianship or adoption when reunification is not possible. In recent years, the Children’s Bureau within ACF has pioneered a results-focused approach to monitoring Federal child welfare programs. The second round of these Child and Family Service Reviews began in 2007 and will hold States accountable for the safety, permanency, and well-being of children involved with child welfare authorities.
Additionally, the Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) program, a capped entitlement program authorized through the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Act of 1997 (Public Law 105-89), assists States in coordinating services related to child abuse prevention and family preservation. These services include community-based family support, family preservation, time-limited reunification services, and adoption promotion and support services. Inspired by research showing that regular caseworker visits are related to the achievement of important child and family outcomes for children in foster care, new funding within the PSSF program provides resources to States to help them ensure that caseworkers visit children monthly.
Through the Adoption Incentives program, States will be able to earn bonus payments by increasing the number of adoptions of children in foster care over previous years. The Adoption Opportunities program supports grants that facilitate the elimination of barriers to adoption, and the adoption awareness programs support adoption efforts, including adoption of children with special needs, through training and a public awareness campaign. Adoption incentives added in the 2003 reauthorization of the Adoption Incentive Payments Program focus on adoptions of children age 9 and older who face particularly long waits for adoptive homes.
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