Paving the Way for Adoption Reform

October 21, 2013
By Jenny Li Fowler, HKS Communications

The brainchild of a Harvard Kennedy School executive session provided the basis for new legislation recently introduced in the U.S. Senate.

Jeff Katz MC/MPA 2000 and Listening to Parents, the organization he founded and currently heads, organized the 2011 executive session with 18 experts in adoption and family policy. The effort led to recommendations and a Working Paper, which provided the background for the Removing Barriers to Adoption and Supporting Families Act of 2013 introduced in September. “I am thrilled that it has finally been introduced,” says Katz.

The Working Paper, “Eliminating Barriers to the Adoption of Children from Foster Care,” was written by Julie Wilson, Harry Kahn Senior Lecturer in Public Policy; Elaine Kamarck, a former lecturer in public policy; Jeff Katz; and Mary Eschelbach Hansen, of American University.

Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Robert Casey (D-PA) introduced the Bill, which eliminates many barriers to adoption for children in foster care. The bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee and has a very long road to travel before it is turned to law.

“The bill will be part of a long discussion on renewing the Adoption Incentives Program, which rewards states financially for increasing the number of kids adopted from foster care,” says Katz. “The key is to mobilize adoptive parents, which we are doing.”

Smoothing the Path to Adoption
HKS Impact Newsletter — About 400,000 children are in foster care in the United States at any one time.

Of the roughly 100,000 children waiting for a permanent home, only about half are adopted.

“The adoption gap is not due to lack of interest in adoption by families; surveys indicate there are more than enough interested families to adopt all children waiting in foster care to be adopted,” write the authors of a recent report on easing adoption. read more

Federal Legislation Can Remove Adoption Barriers
The Huffington Post — While the Adoption and Safe Families Act was a landmark piece of legislation, there are still over 100,000 children in foster care in the United States waiting for an adoptive family.

And each year, 27,000 children "age out" of foster care, reaching the age limit for their state and moving on to "independence" without ever knowing the security of a permanent family.

The results are, predictably, disastrous.
read more

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