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Fund Post-Adoption Services with Adoption Incentive Awards

from Summer 2009 Adoptalk

by Joe Kroll, NACAC Executive Director, and Diane Riggs, Adoptalk Editor

“Adoptions: Eliminate Post-Adoption Services Program.” This was just one of many jaw-dropping cuts in Oregon’s proposed human services’ budget earlier this year—a cut symptomatic of many states’ deep fiscal distress. Unfortunately, what little savings states gain from ending or reducing post-adoption supports will discourage more families from adopting youth with special needs. As a result, states will face heightened funding demands for foster care, law enforcement, court systems, jails, public health, and more.
 
NACAC hopes states will avoid ill-advised cutbacks and help families to permanently care for children with special needs. To secure funding for post-adoption services, we believe advocates can press for state-sanctioned policies that set aside federal adoption incentive payments for post-adoption support.

 
Revised Adoption Incentive Program
 
Thanks to the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, states have the potential to earn more adoption incentive monies than before for adoption increases in federal fiscal years (FY) 2008 through 2013. The Act revised the baselines against which adoption increases are measured, and doubled awards for increased adoptions of children nine and older as well as younger children with special needs. And, for the first time, adoption rate 1 increases can yield awards. To reward states whose 2008 adoption figures surpassed the new baselines, this year’s federal budget includes a $36.5 million appropriation.
 
The revised incentive program also allows states more time—two years from when the funds arrive—to spend the money. With additional time, states can more carefully consider funding priorities. As we see it, states that successfully place more waiting children for adoption have a responsibility to help preserve the stability of adoptive families. Incentives can provide much needed funding for crucial post-adoption services.
 
As an example of the financial rewards possible through the revised program, consider the following scenario. Say the total adoption baseline (based on FY 2007 figures) for state Alpha is 1,200, the baseline for the number of children nine and older who were adopted is 200, and the baseline for Title IV-E eligible adopted children (those who have special needs) under age nine is 600.
 
If, in FY 2008, Alpha completed a total of 1,350 adoptions, including 300 involving children nine and older, and 650 of younger children with special needs, the calculation would be:
 
$4,000 x (1,350-1,200)=$600,000 +
$8,000 x (300-200)=$800,000 +
$4,000 x (650-600)=$200,000 = $1.6 mil
 
For its 2008 adoption increases, Alpha would receive $1.6 million. If the state’s 2008 adoption rate also rose, the payment could be even higher.
Designating Incentive Funds for Post-Adoption Services
 
In these painful times, as states make hard choices about child welfare funding, incentive monies are a much needed resource. Now is the time to ensure that incentive-eligible states can commit anticipated awards to adoptive family support by October 1, 2009.

To start, determine if your state is eligible for a FY 2008 bonus:

  • Until official data is released, record estimated 2007 baseline figures below.
  • Ask your state adoption manager or supervisor 2 for comparable 2008 figures. States must submit adoption data by May 15 each year, so they should have the numbers. If the supervisor cannot help, speak with whomever prepares adoption data.
  • Compare figures by category and if any 2008 numbers are higher than the baseline, calculate the estimated bonus.

If your state is bonus-eligible:

  • Present a plan for using the funds to the state adoption supervisor. By law, states must use incentives to “provide to children or families any service (including post-adoption services) that may be provided under part B of this subchapter or [Title IV-E].” The fact that post-adoption services are singled out as an approved use—and that states can opt to use all of the incentive funds toward this end—signals the government’s intention to support families who adopt children from state custody.
  • If the state agrees to use funds for post-adoption service projects, suggest programmatic categories for an RFP and design two-year programs.
  • Inform others about the RFP. Because there is so little time before October 1, states may offer extra resources to organizations that already have a state contract and can get to work sooner.
Estimated 2007 Baselines*
 
All Adoptions
9 and Older
Alabama                
349
115
Alaska        

238

62

Arkansas                
399
102
Arizona                
1,635
351
California
7,590 
1,619
Colorado  
1,055
226
Connecticut 
567
132
Delaware
119
23
Dist. of Columbia 
148  
62
Florida    
3,041
723
Georgia           
1,267
357
Hawaii
338
66
Idaho
190
56
Illinois
1,693
390
Indiana
1,291
380
Iowa
1,001
221
Kansas
798
208
Kentucky
686
206
Louisiana
429
95
Maine
327
110
Maryland
352
106
Massachusetts
814
186
Michigan
2,640
832
Minnesota
602 
173
Mississippi
295
95
Missouri
823
251
Montana
248
69
Nebraska          
480
138
Nevada
449
118
New Hampshire
138
44
New Jersey
1,392
331
New Mexico
365
118
New York 
2,482
1,045
North Carolina
1,401
339
North Dakota
128
27
Ohio         
1,602
489
Oklahoma        
1,263
345
Oregon
1,020
231
Pennsylvania         
1,926
520
Puerto Rico    
142
33
Rhode Island  
234
55
South Carolina
435
114
South Dakota 
160
51
Tennessee
1,214
523
Texas
4,080
805
Utah
346
66
Vermont
195
66
Virginia
654
200
Washington          
1,199
212
West Virginia      
407
105
Wisconsin
678
211
Wyoming
75
12
Total
51,400
13,414
* Based on 2007 AFCARS data.

Legislating Funding for Post-Adoption Services
 

Though most states’ 2009 legislative sessions are over, there is no time like the present to start working with local representatives and senators to plan for a more family-friendly 2010. In Minnesota, NACAC worked with an adoption-friendly senator on language for the 2010–11 appropriations bill that specifies how the state will use payments it earned for 2008 adoption increases.
 
Since funding for Minnesota Adoption Support and Preservation 3 ended in June, our focus was to capture enough money to underwrite a peer support program for at least the two years in which Minnesota can spend its projected award. Bill language reads:

Federal funding available during fiscal year 2010 and…2011 for the adoption incentive grants are appropriated to the [DHS] commissioner for post-adoption services, including parent support groups.
 
Has your state reduced or eliminated funding for programs that help adoptive families better cope with the challenges of raising children who have special needs? To help prevent further cuts or revive your program:

  • Identify legislators who have an adoption connection and ask them to author language that clearly and specifically designates incentive grants for post-adoption services. Those who are sympathetic to family and children’s issues make good allies too.
  • Remind legislators and officials that adoption disruptions and dissolutions are extremely costly—for children and adoptive families, and for state budgets that must bear the expense of bringing a child back into state custody. As an independent survey of our parent support group program revealed, adoptive families are more likely to remain intact when they have adequate post-adoption services in place.

When states go into debt, their most vulnerable residents—including at-risk children and their caregivers—suffer the most when inevitable social service cuts take effect. States whose 2008 adoption increases merit incentive awards have a perfect opportunity to see that families who welcome home children from state care have the supports they need to survive and thrive. No state that values the welfare of its children and families should pass up this chance. END

________________________________________________________
1  Calculated as the number of finalized adoptions in a federal fiscal year divided by the foster care caseload on the last day of the previous fiscal year. States with their highest rate since 2002 can earn $1,000/child for the number of children adopted beyond those adopted in the year with the next highest adoption rate.
 
2  Link to state supervisors’ contact information at www.nrcadoption.org/nasap/index.htm.
 
3 For the past 10 years, under a state contract, NACAC has been successfully providing post-adoption support to Minnesota families through a regional parent liaison model.

 


North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC)
970 Raymond Avenue, Suite 106
St. Paul, MN 55114
phone: 651-644-3036
fax: 651-644-9848
e-mail: info@nacac.org
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