Foster Care and Adoption - Legislative Agenda for the 112th Congress (2011-2012)

At least one-third of the more than 500,000 children and youth in American foster care systems today have disabilities.  The very systems intended to protect children were not designed to identify, assess, and manage the needs of children with disabilities and their foster families.  Once in the foster care system, children with disabilities may face a full range of systemic problems that prevent positive life experiences and often experience abuse and neglect.  Caseworkers lack the tools to identify and assess disabilities, foster parents lack even basic information about the unique needs of children placed in their homes, and foster children with disabilities are often considered “unadoptable.”

 The 112th Congress should:

  • Fully fund all programs designed to support and assist children and youth in foster care systems, including: 

        - Title IV-E Foster Care Program
        - Title IV-E Adoption Assistance Program
        - Title IV-B Child Welfare Services Program
        - Title XX Social Services Block Grant Program
        - Child Care and Development Block Grant
        - Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)
        - Head Start
        - Medicaid services for foster children

  • Require the Departments of Health and Human Services and Education to collaborate to:

o        Develop and establish a uniform national data tracking system, consistent throughout the states to identify children and youth in foster care systems who have disabilities and to assess the quality of their lives, their integration, and self-determination as a result of the government-provided services and supports they receive;

o        Establish a coordinated approach to information, support, and training for foster families, child welfare workers, and educators that will serve to enhance the supports provided and the quality of life for all involved;

o        Establish planning protocols and services for youth with disabilities who are transitioning out of foster care due to their age; and

o        Strengthen efforts to identify and support adoptive families for children and youth with disabilities in foster care systems.  

Legislative Agenda Partners

We are national organizations that serve and advocate for people with intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities. We work together to shape, expand, and protect a strong federal role that provides vital benefits, services and supports and assures civil rights for our constituency.