Legislation boosting the incentives for people to adopt foster children, especially those with special needs, is being introduced today by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley. He’s being joined at a Washington D.C. news conference by five Iowa families — from Des Moines, Waverly, Iowa City, Ankeny and Cedar Rapids. Grassley says they’ve all been able to adopt foster children and are backing the new bill.
"These parents are extraordinary for their commitment to children and families and few things are as powerful as the desire of these children for safe and permanent homes," Grassley says. He says the new bill will improve on the Adoption Incentive Program which was created ten years ago to encourage states to finalize adoptions of children from foster care.
Grassley says: "This current law has sunset and needs to be reauthorized this year and my bill would improve it by increasing payments to states for finalizing adoptions for children with special needs. It would make all children with special needs eligible for federal adoption assistance." Right now, he says that assistance only applies to children removed from very low-income families.
Grassley co-authored the original Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, which established the Adoption Incentive Program. He says his new bill offers another improvement.
"My legislation will set up a new way for foster care kids to get a permanent home by letting states get federal dollars for relatives who are legal guardians and caring for children who otherwise would be in foster care," Grassley says. He says 127-thousand children are in foster care waiting to be adopted, while a record number of them "aged out" last year on their 21st birthdays, and were sent out on their own without ever having had permanent homes.
In Iowa, 4,000 children need a foster home on any given day. For more about the process, visit the Iowa KidsNet website .