H.R. 4980 – The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act just passed the Senate by unanimous consent in the last hours before adjournment. The bill is to reauthorize the federal Adoption Incentives Program, renew the last year of funding for the Family Connections Grants and strengthen child welfare’s response to foster youth who fall victim to domestic sex trafficking. The National Adoption Center, along with many child welfare colleagues, has been tirelessly advocating for better investments into post-adoption services and increased efforts to secure permanent families for older youth in foster care. The bill will now be sent to the President for signature to become law.
The following provisions are related to adoption:
• The bill reauthorizes the Adoption Incentives Program for 3 years through FY2016 (to align with the reauthorization date of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program (PSSF)).
• The bill phases-in a move to incentives based on rate increases, provides incentives for guardianships for the first time, as well as provides a higher incentive for older youth adoptions and guardianships.
• The bill extends funding for the Family Connections Grants for one year.
• The bill strengthens the 2008 Fostering Connections Act provision requiring states to track and reinvest savings as a result of the federal Title IV-E Adoption Assistance de-link.
• The bill requires HHS to assist states with calculating these savings and requires annual reporting. Additionally, the bill requires that not less than 30 percent of these savings be spent on post-adoption/post-guardianship services, and services to sustain permanent outcomes (of which 20 percent is designated for post-adoption and post-guardianship services).
• The bill requires states to track data on disrupted and dissolved adoptions and guardianships.
• The bill eliminates “APPLA” – Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement – as a permanency goal for youth under age 16.
• The bill encourages the placement of children in foster care with siblings by adding clarifying language that all parents of siblings be notified within 30 days after the removal.