Pennsylvania historically has been successful in maintaining high numbers of adoptions from foster care each year, typically exceeding 2,000 children. In fact, our adoption rate surpasses many other states and has resulted in Pennsylvania receiving numerous financial awards from the federal government for its great work. Pennsylvania has wisely invested any adoption incentive funding it has received into further adoption and permanency services, further fueling our success. While it's important to celebrate this success, it is more critical to help make sure all children in foster care can one day rely upon a permanent family. As of March 2012, nearly 1,700 children in foster care had a goal of adoption.
Earlier this year, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children was successful in advocating for changes to state law (Act 80 of 2012) that will serve to increase the rate of adoption and legal guardianship of teenagers. Now, families who choose to adopt or provide legal guardianship to a teenager will receive three additional years of financial support. Congress strongly encouraged states to extend permanency subsidies to age 21, and provided new federal resources to states to support it. Because of action by Gov. Tom Corbett and the General Assembly, Pennsylvania now has new opportunities to encourage the adoption of youth. Historically, teenagers too often "aged-out" of foster care at or after age 18 without a permanent family connection. The new changes to state law will fix this shortcoming.
Policymakers in Pennsylvania should be applauded for their efforts in recent years to strengthen adoption policies, including changes such as voluntary post-adoption contact agreements, improved access to adoption records and extending the financial support received by families that adopt. All of these reform efforts improve the likelihood children and youth in foster care will become part of a "forever family" – something each of them deserves.
Further information on how someone can adopt can be found at www.adoptpakids.org.
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