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House Approves Adoption Incentives Measure

On September 17, the House approved, by voice vote, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (H.R. 6893). The bill replaces H.R. 6307, which the House passed in June (see The Source, 6/27/08). The Senate Finance Committee approved a similar bill, S. 3038, on September 10 (see The Source, 9/12/08).

H.R. 6893 would reauthorize the Adoption Incentives Program (P.L. 108-145) through FY2012. Just as in S. 3038, the bill would permit states to earn an Adoption Incentive award for increasing the rate of foster child adoptions.

Like the Senate bill, H.R. 6893 would raise the award for adopting a child older than nine years from $4,000 to $8,000; the amount for a child with special needs would be increased from $2,000 to $4,000. However, the payments would be available for 24 months rather than two fiscal years, as is under current law.

The Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Service Program also would be created. The program is named for the late Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH), who passed away on August 20, 2008. It would require state child welfare agencies to identify any adult grandparents or other adult relatives of a child within 30 days of a child’s removal from parental custody; the Senate bill would provide agencies with 60 days.

Beginning in FY2010, the bill would allow states to continue paying adoption incentives until a child turns 21 if that child was completing high school, enrolled in college or a vocational training program, participating in programs “designed to promote employment or remove barriers to employment,” employed at least 80 hours per month, or determined by the state to be “particularly vulnerable” or “a high-risk individual.” This provision would take effect upon passage in the Senate version.

Unlike S. 3038, which would provide $5 million annually, the bill would appropriate $15 million each year for FY2009-FY2013 for the Administration for Children and Families to fund competitive grants to states to establish “kinship navigator programs.”

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