International & National U.S. News
Russian President Vladimir Putin ratified a bilateral adoption agreement with the U.S. on July 28. The agreement tightens controls and imposes more careful inspection and monitoring requirements for those who adopt. Learn more at adoption.state.gov.
Published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, a new report explores the dangers of psychological maltreatment—a type of abuse characterized by repeated patterns of parental behavior that causes children to feel unloved or unwanted and undermines their development and socialization. The report describes how psychological maltreatment affects children and how it can be prevented or treated. Download at pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/ 130/2/372.full.html.
A study by researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, determined that children in Romanian orphanages who grew up without normal emotional and social interactions have measurably different brain structure than children placed with families. MRI brain scans found that the institutionalized children had less grey and white matter volume in their cerebral cortexes than children who were raised in families. The study also found that, with high quality care, children are able to catch up developmentally, but only in white matter growth. [“Variation in Neural Development as a Result of Exposure to Institutionalization Early in Childhood”]
Citing a need to “shift to a grantmaking strategy that will help hundreds of foster care and other nonprofit human services agencies adopt innovative, proven approaches to improve child welfare practices,” the Annie E. Casey Foundation announced on June 26 that it is ending the direct service work of Casey Family Services. Founded in 1976, the agency will formally close in June 2013. Click here to read the Foundation's press release.
Published in the April–June 2012 Families in Society, a study of young adults who grew up in open adoptions confirms the benefits of open adoption. Those surveyed appreciated the ability to access and learn about their birth families and regarded relationship challenges as opportunities to explore identity, expand family, and process feelings. Each open adoption was unique and many agreements needed periodic adjustment. [“Growing up in Open Adoption: Young Adults’ Perspectives”]
State & Provincial News
Effective July 1, 2012 Senate Bill 262 gives grandparents “substantial consideration” when they seek custody of a child brought into foster care who cannot live with either birth parent. Courts that decide custody will consider the child’s best interest, the family’s wishes, and the extent to which a grandparent has already cared for and supported the child.
Effective October 1, 2012 the basic child maintenance rate for foster parents went up again. Including this rate hike, families have seen a 25 percent increase during the past five years. The province is also considering raising rates for families who care for foster children with special needs. [Winnipeg Sun, 7/4/12]
House Bill 1577 requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to implement new rules for students in foster care who transfer schools. Schools are to place incoming transfer students at the same level as in the old school and provide services based on the old school’s Individualized Education Plan until a new assessment is completed. Schools must also waive graduation coursework if the student has done comparable work at another school.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit in June challenging the state’s ban on second-parent adoption. The suit, filed on behalf of six same-sex couples and their children, aims to provide for the children’s best interests by securing legal rights for both parents. Learn more at www.aclu.org/second-parent-adoption-NC.
Governor Tom Corbett’s latest budget fully funds implementation of the state's Fostering Connections Act. Among other provisions, the Act extends adoption and foster care subsidies for youth to age 21, broadens eligibility criteria for youth who can stay in care until 21, and permits youth to re-enter care between the ages of 18 and 21.