42 U.S. Code § 670 - Congressional declaration of purpose; authorization of appropriations

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For the purpose of enabling each State to provide, in appropriate cases, foster care and transitional independent living programs for children who otherwise would have been eligible for assistance under the State’s plan approved under part A (as such plan was in effect on June 1, 1995), adoption assistance for children with special needs, kinship guardianship assistance, and prevention services or programs specified in section 671(e)(1) of this title, there are authorized to be appropriated for each fiscal year such sums as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this part. The sums made available under this section shall be used for making payments to States which have submitted, and had approved by the Secretary, State plans under this part.

Amendments

2018—Pub. L. 115–123 substituted “June 1, 1995), adoption assistance for children with special needs, kinship guardianship assistance, and prevention services or programs specified in section 671(e)(1) of this title, there are authorized to be appropriated for each fiscal year such sums” for “June 1, 1995) and adoption assistance for children with special needs, there are authorized to be appropriated for each fiscal year (commencing with the fiscal year which begins October 1, 1980) such sums”.

1996—Pub. L. 104–193 substituted “would have been eligible” for “would be eligible” and inserted “(as such plan was in effect on June 1, 1995)” after “part A”.

1986—Pub. L. 99–514 substituted “foster care and transitional independent living programs for children who otherwise would be eligible for assistance under the State’s plan approved under part A and adoption assistance for children with special needs” for “foster care, adoption assistance, and transitional independent living programs for children who otherwise would be eligible for assistance under the State’s plan approved under part A (or, in the case of adoption assistance, would be eligible for benefits under subchapter XVI of this chapter)”.

Pub. L. 99–272 substituted “foster care, adoption assistance, and transitional independent living programs” for “foster care and adoption assistance”.

Effective Date of 2018 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 115–123 effective Feb. 9, 2018, subject to transition rules for required State legislation or tribal action, see section 50734 of Pub. L. 115–123, set out as a note under section 622 of this title.

Effective Date of 1996 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 104–193 effective July 1, 1997, with transition rules relating to State options to accelerate such date, rules relating to claims, actions, and proceedings commenced before such date, rules relating to closing out of accounts for terminated or substantially modified programs and continuance in office of Assistant Secretary for Family Support, and provisions relating to termination of entitlement under AFDC program, see section 116 of Pub. L. 104–193, as amended, set out as an Effective Date note under section 601 of this title.

Effective Date of 1986 Amendment

Pub. L. 99–514, title XVII, § 1711(d), Oct. 22, 1986, 100 Stat. 2784, provided that:

“The amendments made by this section [amending this section and sections 671, 673, and 675 of this title] shall apply only with respect to expenditures made after December 31, 1986.”
Strengthening Abuse and Neglect Courts

Pub. L. 106–314, Oct. 17, 2000, 114 Stat. 1266, provided that:

“SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

“This Act may be cited as the ‘Strengthening Abuse and Neglect Courts Act of 2000’.

“SEC. 2. FINDINGS.Congress finds the following:
“(1)
Under both Federal and State law, the courts play a crucial and essential role in the Nation’s child welfare system and in ensuring safety, stability, and permanence for abused and neglected children under the supervision of that system.
“(2)
The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (Public Law 105–89; 111 Stat. 2115) [see Short Title of 1997 Amendment note set out under section 1305 of this title] establishes explicitly for the first time in Federal law that a child’s health and safety must be the paramount consideration when any decision is made regarding a child in the Nation’s child welfare system.
“(3)
The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 promotes stability and permanence for abused and neglected children by requiring timely decisionmaking in proceedings to determine whether children can safely return to their families or whether they should be moved into safe and stable adoptive homes or other permanent family arrangements outside the foster care system.
“(4)
To avoid unnecessary and lengthy stays in the foster care system, the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 specifically requires, among other things, that States move to terminate the parental rights of the parents of those children who have been in foster care for 15 of the last 22 months.
“(5)
While essential to protect children and to carry out the general purposes of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, the accelerated timelines for the termination of parental rights and the other requirements imposed under that Act increase the pressure on the Nation’s already overburdened abuse and neglect courts.
“(6)
The administrative efficiency and effectiveness of the Nation’s abuse and neglect courts would be substantially improved by the acquisition and implementation of computerized case-tracking systems to identify and eliminate existing backlogs, to move abuse and neglect caseloads forward in a timely manner, and to move children into safe and stable families. Such systems could also be used to evaluate the effectiveness of such courts in meeting the purposes of the amendments made by, and provisions of, the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997.
“(7)
The administrative efficiency and effectiveness of the Nation’s abuse and neglect courts would also be improved by the identification and implementation of projects designed to eliminate the backlog of abuse and neglect cases, including the temporary hiring of additional judges, extension of court hours, and other projects designed to reduce existing caseloads.
“(8)
The administrative efficiency and effectiveness of the Nation’s abuse and neglect courts would be further strengthened by improving the quality and availability of training for judges, court personnel, agency attorneys, guardians ad litem, volunteers who participate in court-appointed special advocate (CASA) programs, and attorneys who represent the children and the parents of children in abuse and neglect proceedings.
“(9)
While recognizing that abuse and neglect courts in this country are already committed to the quality administration of justice, the performance of such courts would be even further enhanced by the development of models and educational opportunities that reinforce court projects that have already been developed, including models for case-flow procedures, case management, representation of children, automated interagency interfaces, and ‘best practices’ standards.
“(10)
Judges, magistrates, commissioners, and other judicial officers play a central and vital role in ensuring that proceedings in our Nation’s abuse and neglect courts are run efficiently and effectively. The performance of those individuals in such courts can only be further enhanced by training, seminars, and an ongoing opportunity to exchange ideas with their peers.
“(11)
Volunteers who participate in court-appointed special advocate (CASA) programs play a vital role as the eyes and ears of abuse and neglect courts in proceedings conducted by, or under the supervision of, such courts and also bring increased public scrutiny of the abuse and neglect court system. The Nation’s abuse and neglect courts would benefit from an expansion of this program to currently underserved communities.
“(12)
Improved computerized case-tracking systems, comprehensive training, and development of, and education on, model abuse and neglect court systems, particularly with respect to underserved areas, would significantly further the purposes of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 by reducing the average length of an abused and neglected child’s stay in foster care, improving the quality of decision-making and court services provided to children and families, and increasing the number of adoptions.
“SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.“In this Act:
“(1) Abuse and neglect courts.—The term ‘abuse and neglect courts’ means the State and local courts that carry out State or local laws requiring proceedings (conducted by or under the supervision of the courts)—
“(A)
that implement part B and part E of title IV of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 620 et seq.; 670 et seq.) (including preliminary disposition of such proceedings);
“(B)
that determine whether a child was abused or neglected;
“(C)
that determine the advisability or appropriateness of placement in a family foster home, group home, or a special residential care facility; or
“(D)
that determine any other legal disposition of a child in the abuse and neglect court system.
“(2) Agency attorney.—
The term ‘agency attorney’ means an attorney or other individual, including any government attorney, district attorney, attorney general, State attorney, county attorney, city solicitor or attorney, corporation counsel, or privately retained special prosecutor, who represents the State or local agency administrating the programs under parts B and E of title IV of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 620 et seq.; 670 et seq.) in a proceeding conducted by, or under the supervision of, an abuse and neglect court, including a proceeding for termination of parental rights.
“SEC. 4. GRANTS TO STATE COURTS AND LOCAL COURTS TO AUTOMATE THE DATA COLLECTION AND TRACKING OF PROCEEDINGS IN ABUSE AND NEGLECT COURTS.
“(a) Authority To Award Grants.—
“(1) In general.—Subject to paragraph (2), the Attorney General, acting through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the Office of Justice Programs, shall award grants in accordance with this section to State courts and local courts for the purposes of—
“(A)
enabling such courts to develop and implement automated data collection and case-tracking systems for proceedings conducted by, or under the supervision of, an abuse and neglect court;
“(B)
encouraging the replication of such systems in abuse and neglect courts in other jurisdictions; and
“(C)
requiring the use of such systems to evaluate a court’s performance in implementing the requirements of parts B and E of title IV of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 620 et seq.; 670 et seq.).
“(2) Limitations.—
“(A) Number of grants.—
Not less than 20 nor more than 50 grants may be awarded under this section.
“(B) Per state limitation.—
Not more than 2 grants authorized under this section may be awarded per State.
“(C) Use of grants.—
Funds provided under a grant made under this section may only be used for the purpose of developing, implementing, or enhancing automated data collection and case-tracking systems for proceedings conducted by, or under the supervision of, an abuse and neglect court.
“(b) Application.—
“(1) In general.—
A State court or local court may submit an application for a grant authorized under this section at such time and in such manner as the Attorney General may determine.
“(2) Information required.—An application for a grant authorized under this section shall contain the following:
“(A)
A description of a proposed plan for the development, implementation, and maintenance of an automated data collection and case-tracking system for proceedings conducted by, or under the supervision of, an abuse and neglect court, including a proposed budget for the plan and a request for a specific funding amount.
“(B) A description of the extent to which such plan and system are able to be replicated in abuse and neglect courts of other jurisdictions that specifies the common case-tracking data elements of the proposed system, including, at a minimum—
“(i)
identification of relevant judges, court, and agency personnel;
“(ii)
records of all court proceedings with regard to the abuse and neglect case, including all court findings and orders (oral and written); and
“(iii)
relevant information about the subject child, including family information and the reason for court supervision.
“(C)
In the case of an application submitted by a local court, a description of how the plan to implement the proposed system was developed in consultation with related State courts, particularly with regard to a State court improvement plan funded under section 13712 of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C. 670 note) [now 42 U.S.C. 629h] if there is such a plan in the State.
“(D)
In the case of an application that is submitted by a State court, a description of how the proposed system will integrate with a State court improvement plan funded under section 13712 of such Act if there is such a plan in the State.
“(E) After consultation with the State agency responsible for the administration of parts B and E of title IV of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 620 et seq.; 670 et seq.)—
“(i)
a description of the coordination of the proposed system with other child welfare data collection systems, including the statewide automated child welfare information system (SACWIS) and the adoption and foster care analysis and reporting system (AFCARS) established pursuant to section 479 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 679); and
“(ii)
an assurance that such coordination will be implemented and maintained.
“(F)
Identification of an independent third party that will conduct ongoing evaluations of the feasibility and implementation of the plan and system and a description of the plan for conducting such evaluations.
“(G)
A description or identification of a proposed funding source for completion of the plan (if applicable) and maintenance of the system after the conclusion of the period for which the grant is to be awarded.
“(H)
An assurance that any contract entered into between the State court or local court and any other entity that is to provide services for the development, implementation, or maintenance of the system under the proposed plan will require the entity to agree to allow for replication of the services provided, the plan, and the system, and to refrain from asserting any proprietary interest in such services for purposes of allowing the plan and system to be replicated in another jurisdiction.
“(I) An assurance that the system established under the plan will provide data that allows for evaluation (at least on an annual basis) of the following information:
“(i)
The total number of cases that are filed in the abuse and neglect court.
“(ii)
The number of cases assigned to each judge who presides over the abuse and neglect court.
“(iii)
The average length of stay of children in foster care.
“(iv) With respect to each child under the jurisdiction of the court—
     “(I)
the number of episodes of placement in foster care;
     “(II)
the number of days placed in foster care and the type of placement (foster family home, group home, or special residential care facility);
     “(III)
the number of days of in-home supervision; and
     “(IV)
the number of separate foster care placements.
“(v)
The number of adoptions, guardianships, or other permanent dispositions finalized.
“(vi)
The number of terminations of parental rights.
“(vii)
The number of child abuse and neglect proceedings closed that had been pending for 2 or more years.
“(viii) With respect to each proceeding conducted by, or under the supervision of, an abuse and neglect court—
     “(I)
the timeliness of each stage of the proceeding from initial filing through legal finalization of a permanency plan (for both contested and uncontested hearings);
     “(II)
the number of adjournments, delays, and continuances occurring during the proceeding, including identification of the party requesting each adjournment, delay, or continuance and the reasons given for the request;
     “(III)
the number of courts that conduct or supervise the proceeding for the duration of the abuse and neglect case;
     “(IV)
the number of judges assigned to the proceeding for the duration of the abuse and neglect case; and
     “(V)
the number of agency attorneys, children’s attorneys, parent’s attorneys, guardians ad litem, and volunteers participating in a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) program assigned to the proceeding during the duration of the abuse and neglect case.
“(J)
A description of how the proposed system will reduce the need for paper files and ensure prompt action so that cases are appropriately listed with national and regional adoption exchanges, and public and private adoption services.
“(K)
An assurance that the data collected in accordance with subparagraph (I) will be made available to relevant Federal, State, and local government agencies and to the public.
“(L)
An assurance that the proposed system is consistent with other civil and criminal information requirements of the Federal Government.
“(M)
An assurance that the proposed system will provide notice of timeframes required under the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (Public Law 105–89; 111 Stat. 2115) for individual cases to ensure prompt attention and compliance with such requirements.
“(c) Conditions for Approval of Applications.—
“(1) Matching requirement.—
“(A) In general.—
A State court or local court awarded a grant under this section shall expend $1 for every $3 awarded under the grant to carry out the development, implementation, and maintenance of the automated data collection and case-tracking system under the proposed plan.
“(B) Waiver for hardship.—
The Attorney General may waive or modify the matching requirement described in subparagraph (A) in the case of any State court or local court that the Attorney General determines would suffer undue hardship as a result of being subject to the requirement.
“(C) Non-federal expenditures.—
“(i) Cash or in kind.—
State court or local court expenditures required under subparagraph (A) may be in cash or in kind, fairly evaluated, including plant, equipment, or services.
“(ii) No credit for pre-award expenditures.—
Only State court or local court expenditures made after a grant has been awarded under this section may be counted for purposes of determining whether the State court or local court has satisfied the matching expenditure requirement under subparagraph (A).
“(2) Notification to state or appropriate child welfare agency.—
No application for a grant authorized under this section may be approved unless the State court or local court submitting the application demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Attorney General that the court has provided the State, in the case of a State court, or the appropriate child welfare agency, in the case of a local court, with notice of the contents and submission of the application.
“(3) Considerations.—In evaluating an application for a grant under this section the Attorney General shall consider the following:
“(A)
The extent to which the system proposed in the application may be replicated in other jurisdictions.
“(B)
The extent to which the proposed system is consistent with the provisions of, and amendments made by, the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (Public Law 105–89; 111 Stat. 2115), and parts B and E of title IV of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 620 et seq.; 670 et seq.).
“(C)
The extent to which the proposed system is feasible and likely to achieve the purposes described in subsection (a)(1).
“(4) Diversity of awards.—
The Attorney General shall award grants under this section in a manner that results in a reasonable balance among grants awarded to State courts and grants awarded to local courts, grants awarded to courts located in urban areas and courts located in rural areas, and grants awarded in diverse geographical locations.
“(d) Length of Awards.—
No grant may be awarded under this section for a period of more than 5 years.
“(e) Availability of Funds.—
Funds provided to a State court or local court under a grant awarded under this section shall remain available until expended without fiscal year limitation.
“(f) Reports.—
“(1) Annual report from grantees.—Each State court or local court that is awarded a grant under this section shall submit an annual report to the Attorney General that contains—
“(A)
a description of the ongoing results of the independent evaluation of the plan for, and implementation of, the automated data collection and case-tracking system funded under the grant; and
“(B)
the information described in subsection (b)(2)(I).
“(2) Interim and final reports from attorney general.—
“(A) Interim reports.—
Beginning 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act [Oct. 17, 2000], and biannually thereafter until a final report is submitted in accordance with subparagraph (B), the Attorney General shall submit to Congress interim reports on the grants made under this section.
“(B) Final report.—
Not later than 90 days after the termination of all grants awarded under this section, the Attorney General shall submit to Congress a final report evaluating the automated data collection and case-tracking systems funded under such grants and identifying successful models of such systems that are suitable for replication in other jurisdictions. The Attorney General shall ensure that a copy of such final report is transmitted to the highest State court in each State.
“(g) Authorization of Appropriations.—
There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section, $10,000,000 for the period of fiscal years 2001 through 2005.
“SEC. 5. GRANTS TO REDUCE PENDING BACKLOGS OF ABUSE AND NEGLECT CASES TO PROMOTE PERMANENCY FOR ABUSED AND NEGLECTED CHILDREN.
“(a) Authority To Award Grants.—The Attorney General, acting through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the Office of Justice Programs and in collaboration with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, shall award grants in accordance with this section to State courts and local courts for the purposes of—
“(1)
promoting the permanency goals established in the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (Public Law 105–89; 111 Stat. 2115); and
“(2)
enabling such courts to reduce existing backlogs of cases pending in abuse and neglect courts, especially with respect to cases to terminate parental rights and cases in which parental rights to a child have been terminated but an adoption of the child has not yet been finalized.
“(b) Application.—A State court or local court shall submit an application for a grant under this section, in such form and manner as the Attorney General shall require, that contains a description of the following:
“(1)
The barriers to achieving the permanency goals established in the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 that have been identified.
“(2)
The size and nature of the backlogs of children awaiting termination of parental rights or finalization of adoption.
“(3)
The strategies the State court or local court proposes to use to reduce such backlogs and the plan and timetable for doing so.
“(4)
How the grant funds requested will be used to assist the implementation of the strategies described in paragraph (3).
“(c) Use of Funds.—Funds provided under a grant awarded under this section may be used for any purpose that the Attorney General determines is likely to successfully achieve the purposes described in subsection (a), including temporarily—
“(1)
establishing night court sessions for abuse and neglect courts;
“(2)
hiring additional judges, magistrates, commissioners, hearing officers, referees, special masters, and other judicial personnel for such courts;
“(3)
hiring personnel such as clerks, administrative support staff, case managers, mediators, and attorneys for such courts; or
“(4)
extending the operating hours of such courts.
“(d) Number of Grants.—
Not less than 15 nor more than 20 grants shall be awarded under this section.
“(e) Availability of Funds.—
Funds awarded under a grant made under this section shall remain available for expenditure by a grantee for a period not to exceed 3 years from the date of the grant award.
“(f) Report on Use of Funds.—Not later than the date that is halfway through the period for which a grant is awarded under this section, and 90 days after the end of such period, a State court or local court awarded a grant under this section shall submit a report to the Attorney General that includes the following:
“(1)
The barriers to the permanency goals established in the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 that are or have been addressed with grant funds.
“(2)
The nature of the backlogs of children that were pursued with grant funds.
“(3)
The specific strategies used to reduce such backlogs.
“(4) The progress that has been made in reducing such backlogs, including the number of children in such backlogs—
“(A)
whose parental rights have been terminated; and
“(B)
whose adoptions have been finalized.
“(5)
Any additional information that the Attorney General determines would assist jurisdictions in achieving the permanency goals established in the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997.
“(g) Authorization of Appropriations.—
There are authorized to be appropriated for the period of fiscal years 2001 and 2002 $10,000,000 for the purpose of making grants under this section.
“SEC. 6. GRANTS TO EXPAND THE COURT-APPOINTED SPECIAL ADVOCATE PROGRAM IN UNDERSERVED AREAS.
“(a) Grants To Expand CASA Programs in Underserved Areas.—The Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the Department of Justice shall make a grant to the National Court-Appointed Special Advocate Association for the purposes of—
“(1)
expanding the recruitment of, and building the capacity of, court-appointed special advocate programs located in the 15 largest urban areas;
“(2)
developing regional, multijurisdictional court-appointed special advocate programs serving rural areas; and
“(3)
providing training and supervision of volunteers in court-appointed special advocate programs.
“(b) Limitation on Administrative Expenditures.—
Not more than 5 percent of the grant made under this subsection may be used for administrative expenditures.
“(c) Determination of Urban and Rural Areas.—
For purposes of administering the grant authorized under this subsection, the Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the Department of Justice shall determine whether an area is one of the 15 largest urban areas or a rural area in accordance with the practices of, and statistical information compiled by, the Bureau of the Census.
“(d) Authorization of Appropriations.—
There is authorized to be appropriated to make the grant authorized under this section, $5,000,000 for the period of fiscal years 2001 and 2002.”
Entitlement Funding for State Courts To Assess and Improve Handling of Proceedings Relating to Foster Care and Adoption

Pub. L. 103–66, title XIII, § 13712, Aug. 10, 1993, 107 Stat. 655, as amended by Pub. L. 105–89, title III, § 305(a)(3), Nov. 19, 1997, 111 Stat. 2130; Pub. L. 107–133, title I, § 107(a)–(d), Jan. 17, 2002, 115 Stat. 2418, which was formerly set out as a note under this section, was renumbered section 438 of the Social Security Act by Pub. L. 107–133, title I, § 107(e), Jan. 17, 2002, 115 Stat. 2419, and is classified to section 629h of this title.

Abandoned Infants Assistance

Pub. L. 100–505, Oct. 18, 1988, 102 Stat. 2533, as amended by Pub. L. 102–236, §§ 2–8, Dec. 12, 1991, 105 Stat. 1812–1816; Pub. L. 104–235, title II, §§ 221, 222, Oct. 3, 1996, 110 Stat. 3091, 3092; Pub. L. 108–36, title III, §§ 301–305, June 25, 2003, 117 Stat. 822–824, known as the Abandoned Infants Assistance Act of 1988, and formerly set out as a note under this section, provided temporary authority for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make grants to public and nonprofit private entities for the purpose of developing, implementing, and operating projects to prevent the abandonment of infants and young children and required the Secretary to provide for evaluations of those projects. As amended by Pub. L. 102–236, § 8, the program became permanent, and Pub. L. 100–505, except title II, was transferred to subchapter IV–A (§ 5117aa et seq.) of chapter 67 of this title, prior to repeal by Pub. L. 115–271, title VII, § 7065(b), Oct. 24, 2018, 132 Stat. 4028. Title II of Pub. L. 100–505 was repealed by Pub. L. 111–320, title IV, § 401(b), Dec. 20, 2010, 124 Stat. 3513.

Study of Foster Care and Adoption Assistance Programs; Report to Congress Not Later Than October 1, 1983

Pub. L. 96–272, title I, § 101(b), June 17, 1980, 94 Stat. 513, directed the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to conduct a study of programs of foster care and adoption assistance established under part IV–E of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 670 et seq.) and submit to Congress, not later than Oct. 1, 1983, a full and complete report thereon, together with his recommendations as to (A) whether such part IV–E should be continued, and if so, (B) the changes (if any) which should be made in such part IV–E.

Ex. Ord. No. 13930. Strengthening the Child Welfare System for America’s Children

Ex. Ord. No. 13930, June 24, 2020, 85 F.R. 38741, provided:

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Purpose. Every child deserves a family. Our States and communities have both a legal obligation, and the privilege, to care for our Nation’s most vulnerable children.

The best foster care system is one that is not needed in the first place. My Administration has been focused on prevention strategies that keep children safe while strengthening families so that children do not enter foster care unnecessarily. Last year, and for only the second time since 2011, the number of children in the foster care system declined, and for the third year in a row, the number of children entering foster care has declined.

But challenges remain. Too many young people who are in our foster care system wait years before finding the permanency of family. More than 400,000 children are currently in foster care. Of those, more than 124,000 children are waiting for adoption, with nearly 6 out of 10 (58.4 percent) having already become legally eligible for adoption.

More than 50 percent of the children waiting for adoption have been in foster care—without the security and constancy of a permanent family—for 2 years or more. The need for stability and timely permanency is particularly acute for children 9 years and older, children in sibling groups, and those with intellectual or physical disabilities.

Even worse, too many young men and women age out of foster care having never found a permanent, stable family. In recent years, approximately 20,000 young people have aged out of foster care each year in the United States. Research has shown that young people who age out of the foster care system are likely to experience significant, and significantly increased, life challenges—40 percent of such young people studied experienced homelessness; 50 percent were unemployed at age 24; 25 percent experienced post-traumatic stress disorder; and 71 percent became pregnant by age 21. These are unacceptable outcomes.

Several factors have contributed to the number of children who wait in foster care for extended periods. First, State and local child welfare agencies often do not have robust partnerships with private community organizations, including faith-based organizations. Second, those who step up to be resource families for children in foster care—including kin, guardians, foster parents, and adoptive parents—may lack adequate support. Third, too often the processes and systems meant to help children and families in crisis have instead created bureaucratic barriers that make it more difficult for these children and families to get the help they need.

It is the goal of the United States to promote a child welfare system that reduces the need to place children into foster care; achieves safe permanency for those children who must come into foster care, and does so more quickly and more effectively; places appropriate focus on children who are waiting for adoption, especially those who are 9 years and older, are in sibling groups, or have disabilities; and decreases the proportion of young adults who age out of the foster care system.

Children from all backgrounds have the potential to become successful and thriving adults. Yet without a committed, loving family that can provide encouragement, stability, and a lifelong connection, some children may never receive the support needed to realize that potential.

This order will help to empower families who answer the call to open their hearts and homes to children who need them. My Administration is committed to helping give as many children as possible the stability and support that family provides by dramatically improving our child welfare system.

Sec. 2. Encouraging Robust Partnerships Between State Agencies and Public, Private, Faith-based, and Community Organizations. (a) In order to facilitate close partnerships between State agencies and nongovernmental organizations, including public, private, faith-based, and community groups, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (the “Secretary”) shall provide increased public access to accurate, up-to-date information relevant to strengthening the child welfare system, including by:

(i) Publishing data to aid in the recruitment of community support. Within 1 year of the date of this order [June 24, 2020] and each year thereafter, the Secretary shall submit to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, a report that provides information about typical patterns of entry, recent available counts of children in foster care, and counts of children waiting for adoption. To the extent appropriate and consistent with applicable law, including all privacy laws, this data will be disaggregated by county or other sub-State level, child age, placement type, and prior time in care.

(ii) Collecting needed data to preserve sibling connections.

(A) Within 2 years of the date of this order, the Secretary shall collect information from appropriate State and local agencies on the number of children in foster care who have siblings in foster care and who are not currently placed with their siblings.

(B) Within 3 years of the date of this order, to support the goal of keeping siblings together (42 U.S.C. 671(a)(31)(A)), the Secretary shall develop data analysis methods to report on the experience of children entering care in sibling groups, and the extent to which they are placed together. The Secretary’s analysis shall also assess the extent to which siblings who are legally eligible for adoption achieve permanency together.

(iii) Expanding the number of homes for children and youth.

(A) Within 2 years of the date of this order, the Secretary shall develop a more rigorous and systematic approach to collecting State administrative data as part of the Child and Family Services Review required by section 1123A of the Social Security Act (the “Act”) (42 U.S.C. 1320a–2a). Data collected shall include:

(1) demographic information for children in foster care and waiting for adoption;

(2) the number of currently available foster families and their demographic information;

(3) the average foster parent retention rate and average length of time foster parents remain certified;

(4) a target number of foster homes needed to meet the needs of children in foster care; and

(5) the average length of time it takes to complete foster and adoptive home certification.

(B) The Secretary shall ensure, to the extent consistent with applicable law, that States report to the Secretary regarding strategies for coordinating with nongovernmental organizations, including faith-based and community organizations, to recruit and support foster and adoptive families.

(b) Within 1 year of the date of this order, the Secretary shall issue guidance to Federal, State, and local agencies on partnering with nongovernmental organizations. This guidance shall include best practices for information sharing, providing needed services to families to support prevention of children entering foster care, family preservation, foster and adoptive home recruitment and retention, respite care, post-placement family support, and support for older youth. This guidance shall also make clear that faith-based organizations are eligible for partnerships under title IV–E [probably means part E of title IV] of the Act (42 U.S.C. 670 et seq.), on an equal basis, consistent with the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Sec. 3. Improving Access to Adequate Resources for Caregivers and Youth. While many public, private, faith-based, and community resources and other sources of support exist, many American caregivers still lack connection with and access to adequate resources. Within 1 year of the date of this order, the Secretary shall equip caregivers and those in care to meet their unique challenges, by:

(a) Expanding educational options. To the extent practicable, the Secretary shall use all existing technical assistance resources to promote dissemination and State implementation of the National Training and Development Curriculum, including, when appropriate, in non-classroom environments.

(b) Increasing the availability of trauma-informed training. The Secretary shall provide an enhanced, web-based, learning-management platform to house the information generated by the National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative. Access to this web-based training material will be provided free of charge for all child welfare and mental health practitioners.

(c) Supporting guardianship. The Secretary shall provide information to States regarding the importance and availability of funds to increase guardianship through the title IV–E Guardianship Assistance Program (42 U.S.C. 673), which provides Federal reimbursement for payments to guardians and for associated administrative costs. This information shall include which States have already opted into the program.

(d) Enhancing support for kinship care and youth exiting foster care. The Secretary shall establish a plan to address barriers to accessing existing Federal assistance and benefits for eligible individuals.

Sec. 4. Ensuring Equality of Treatment and Access for all Families. The Howard M. Metzenbaum Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 (the “Multiethnic Placement Act”) (Public Law 103–382[, title V, part E, subpart 1 (§ 551 et seq.); see Tables for classification]), as amended, prohibits agencies from denying to any person the opportunity to become an adoptive or a foster parent on the basis of race, color, or national origin (42 U.S.C. 671(a)(18)(A)); prohibits agencies from delaying or denying the placement of a child for adoption or into foster care on the basis of race, color, or national origin (id. 671(a)(18)(B)); and requires agencies to diligently recruit a diverse base of foster and adoptive parents to better reflect the racial and ethnic makeup of children in out-of-home care (id. 662(b)(7)). To further the goals of the Multiethnic Placement Act, the Secretary shall:

(a) within 6 months of the date of this order, initiate a study regarding the implementation of these requirements nationwide;

(b) within 1 year of the date of this order, update guidance, as necessary, regarding implementation of the Multiethnic Placement Act; and

(c) within 1 year of the date of this order, publish guidance regarding the rights of parents, prospective parents, and children with disabilities (including intellectual, developmental, or physical disabilities).

Sec. 5. Improving Processes to Prevent Unnecessary Removal and Secure Permanency for Children. (a) Federal Review of Reasonable Effort Determinations and Timeliness Requirements.

(i) Within 2 years of the date of this order, the Secretary shall require that both the title IV–E reviews conducted pursuant to 45 CFR 1356.71 and the Child and Family Services Reviews conducted pursuant to 45 CFR 1355.31–1355.36 specifically and adequately assess the following requirements:

(A) reasonable efforts to prevent removal;

(B) filing a petition for Termination of Parental Rights within established statutory timelines and court processing of such petition, unless statutory exemptions apply;

(C) reasonable efforts to finalize permanency plans; and

(D) completion of relevant required family search and notifications and how such efforts are reviewed by courts.

(ii) In cases in which it is determined that statutorily required timelines and efforts have not been satisfied, the Secretary shall make use of existing authority in making eligibility determinations and disallowances consistent with section 1123A(b)(3)(4) of the Act (42 U.S.C. 1320a–2a(b)(3)(4)) [probably means 42 U.S.C. 1320a–2a(b)(3) and (4)].

(iii) Within 2 years of the date of this order, the Secretary shall develop metrics to track permanency outcomes in each State and measure State performance over time.

(iv) Within 6 months of the date of this order, the Secretary shall provide guidance to States regarding flexibility in the use of Federal funds to support and encourage high-quality legal representation for parents and children, including pre-petition representation, in their efforts to prevent the removal of children from their families, safely reunify children and parents, finalize permanency, and ensure that their voices are heard and their rights are protected. The Secretary shall also ensure collection of data regarding State use of Federal funds for this purpose.

(b) Risk and Safety Assessments.

(i) Within 18 months of the date of this order, the Secretary shall collect States’ individual standards for conducting risk and safety assessments required under section 106(b)(2)(B)(iv) of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (42 U.S.C. 5106(b)(2)(B)(iv)) [probably means 42 U.S.C. 5106a(b)(2)(B)(iv)].

(ii) Within 2 years of the date of this order, the Secretary shall outline reasonable best practice standards for risk and safety assessments, including how to address domestic violence and substance abuse.

Sec. 6. Indian Child Welfare Act. Nothing in this order shall alter the implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act [of 1978; 25 U.S.C. 1901 et seq.] or replace the tribal consultation process.

Sec. 7. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

Donald J. Trump.
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