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For Immediate Release
September 23, 2008
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WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) commended Congress for giving final approval last evening to a bill that will provide help to hundreds of thousands of abused and neglected children and youth in foster care. The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (H.R. 6893) will help find permanent families for many of these children through adoption or relative guardianship and ensure that more siblings can stay together while in foster care, with relatives or in adoptive families.
"There is nothing more important to children than family," said CDF President Marian Wright Edelman. "CDF applauds Congress for reaching across party lines and stepping forward to improve the lives of our nation's children and offering these most vulnerable children meaningful family connections. Compared to those who have not been in foster care, these youth are more likely to become homeless, unemployed or to be incarcerated, and more likely to have physical, developmental and mental health challenges. This bill offers them new hope. These improvements are a vivid example of how by working together we can improve all of our lives by putting children first."
Under the current system, youth in foster care are often forced out of care at age 18 and have few resources to help them transition to adulthood. This bill will help older youth remain in foster care longer to increase their opportunities for continued education, employment or other activities helpful to their futures. The legislation—considered the most significant reforms for children in foster care in more than a decade—includes provisions to help youth in foster care by:
Key to gaining support for the bill’s passage were testimonials from youth who had spent time in foster care, grandparents and other relatives raising children, and adoptive parents. More than 500,000 children in America are in foster care at any given time; about one-fourth of them are being cared for by relatives. Each year, more than 127,000 children in foster care are waiting to be adopted. More than 26,000 older youth leave foster care—most at 18—without being returned home or adopted.
For more specifics on the legislation, visit www.childrensdefense.org/policy/welfare/.
For more information about the Children's Defense Fund, visit www.childrensdefense.org.