Fostering That Became Adopting

By Jordan Upton

On May 11th, the Friday before Mother’s Day, ABC Evening News with David Muir chose to spotlight the Peters family as their ‘Persons of the Week’. Sharis and her husband, Thomas, wanted children but due to fertility issues they were unable to conceive. Faced with expensive fertility treatments, the couple instead sought other avenues in order to fulfill their desire for children. This led the couple to begin fostering in 2010. Sharis and Thomas were contacted about siblings Miles, 3 years old, and Jasmine, 5 month old. After bringing Miles and Jasmine home, the couple fell in love with the children, and 10 months later, the Peters received another call from their social worker that baby Jade, Miles and Jasmine’s sister, had been born. Baby Jade was the exclamation point to this happy couple’s fostering story. Sharis and Thomas have officially adopted all of the children who are now 11, 8, and 7.

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"Being a foster parent and becoming an adoptive parent has meant everything to me," she said. "There's nothing else I'd rather be doing with my life." Sharis says. She goes on to describe the overwhelming joy she has felt on this journey beginning with fostering and ending with the adoption of her children. Sharis advocates for the importance of fostering, not only for the joy that those who foster feel, but more importantly the need for these children to receive the love and care they deserve.

"You don't have to be perfect to be a foster parent. You don't have to be perfect to be an adoptive parent. You don't have to be rich. You don't have to own your own home. You don't have to be perfect," she said. "You just have to be able to love somebody and accept their love. That's all you really need to do."

AGAPE of North Carolina helps create happy endings just like this with our foster care services, adoption services, and counseling services. If you are interested in enriching your life as well as changing a child’s life in an extraordinary way, are interested in helping promote the AGAPE mission, or want to donate to the organization, please visit www.agapeofnc.org.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/couple-ad...

FAMILY FIRST PREVENTION SERVICES ACT

HISTORIC REFORMS TO CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM WILL IMPROVE OUTCOMES FOR CHILDREN

By the Children’s Defense Fund

On February 9, 2018, President Trump signed into law the landmark bipartisan Family First Prevention Services Act, as part of Division E in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (H.R. 1892). Family First includes long-overdue historic reforms to help keep children safely with their families and avoid the traumatic experience of entering foster care, emphasizes the importance of children growing up in families and helps ensure children are placed in the least restrictive, most family-like setting appropriate to their special needs when foster care is needed. Family First builds on the original version of the bill passed in the House of Representatives in June 2016 (H.R.5456).

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In 2016, more than 437,000 children were in foster care. After years of decline, the number of children in foster care has risen steadily since 2012, with anecdotal evidence and expert opinion linking this increase to the parallel rise in opioid addiction and overdoses. Family First provides struggling and overburdened child welfare agencies with the tools needed to help children and families in crisis, including families struggling with the opioid epidemic.

The Family First Prevention Services Act redirects federal funds to provide services to keep children safely with their families and out of foster care, and when foster care is needed allows federal reimbursement for care in family-based settings and certain residential treatment programs for children with emotional and behavioral disturbance requiring special treatment.

Family First Includes

Federal investments in prevention for children at risk of foster care. The act provides federal funds under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, beginning in FY2020, to support evidence-based prevention efforts for 1) mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment services and 2) in-home parent skill-based services. The services may be provided for not more than 12 months for children who are at imminent risk of entering foster care, their parents and relatives to assist the children, and pregnant or parenting teens.

Federal funds targeted for children in foster family home, or in qualified residential treatment programs, or other special settings. Federal funding is limited to children in family foster homes, qualified residential treatment programs, and special treatment settings for pregnant or parenting teens, youth 18 and over preparing to transition from foster care to adulthood, and youth who have been found to be—or are at risk of becoming —sex trafficking victims. The act requires timely assessments and periodic reviews of children with special needs who are placed in qualified residential treatment programs to ensure their continued need for such care. After FY2020 (unless the state opts to delay until 2022), Title IV-E reimbursement will be provided only for administrative costs for children in other group care settings, and not for room and board.

The new dollars for preventing children from entering foster care and restricting federal funds for group care take effect in FY2020 (or states may choose to delay until no later than 2022) so states can make necessary accommodations. The act recognizes adjustments will be needed to establish prevention services to keep children safely in families and in care that meet their special treatment needs. States have flexibility in defining the safety services they provide to children and families, and how they will ensure quality residential treatment for children with emotional and behavioral needs.

Additional investments to keep children safely with families

  • Offers additional support for relative caregivers by providing federal funds for evidence-based Kinship Navigator programs that link relative caregivers to a broad range of services and supports to help children remain safely with them, and requiring states to document how their foster care licensing standards accommodate relative caregivers.
  • Allows Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program funds to be used for unlimited family reunification services for children in foster care and an additional 15 months of family reunification services for children once they return home.
  • Extends for five years the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services Program and the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program, including the Court Improvement Program grants.
  • Requires states to have statewide plans to track and prevent child maltreatment fatalities.
  • Establishes a competitive grant program to support the recruitment and retention of high quality foster families to help place more children in these homes, with special attention to states and tribes with the highest percentage of children in non-family settings.

Helps address opioids and other substance abuse

  • Reauthorizes and updates the Regional Partnership Grant program, which funds state and regional grantees seeking to provide evidence-based services to prevent child maltreatment related to substance abuse as an important step in addressing the recent spike in requests to child welfare systems due to opioids and other drugs.

Supports youth transitioning from care

Extends the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program’s independent living services to assist former foster youth up to age 23 (currently available to youth between ages 18-21) and extends eligibility for education and training vouchers for these youth to age 26 (currently only available to youth up to age 23).

Promotes permanent families for children

  • Establishes an electronic interstate case-processing system to help states expedite the interstate placement of children in foster care, adoption, or guardianship.
  • Extends the Adoption and Legal Guardianship Incentive Payment program for five years, which allows states to receive incentive awards for increasing exits of children from foster care to adoption or guardianship.
  • Takes steps, including requiring a GAO Report, to ensure states are reinvesting in post-adoption services state dollars freed up by making additional children eligible for Title IV-E Adoption Assistance payments. To help pay in part for these new reforms, a federal income eligibility requirement for the adoption assistance payments for children under age two was established.

The Children’s Bureau anticipates releasing additional guidance in October 2018 regarding implementation of this new law. In the meantime, North Carolina will begin discussions with counties and stakeholders to gear up for implementation.

Learn More

For more about the Family First Prevention Services Act, visit the Children’s Defense Fund (http://www.childrensdefense.org/policy/welfare/), where you will find a more detailed summary and an implementation timeline for the Act.

Source: http://fosteringperspectives.org/?p=1422

Foster Care Awareness

By Jordan Upton

May is National Foster Care Month. This national month of recognition began in 1988 when President George H. W. Bush issued the proclamation as a way of shining a national spotlight on the foster care system and to help show appreciation for foster parents.

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While there are countless foster parents who work hard to raise foster care awareness in their communities, they do not receive the same national media attention as do celebrities. International movie stars like Angelina Jolie, Hugh Jackman, and Michelle Pfeiffer have all adopted or fostered children in their lives and have spoken publicly about the joy it has brought them in their lives as well as the importance it holds in the lives of the children. Of this group of celebrity foster and adoptive parents is movie star Sandra Bullock, who has adopted two of her children out of the foster care system.

In an interview with InStyle magazine, Bullock discusses the importance of adopting, especially out of the foster care system. Bullock also discourages the use of the phrase “my adopted child”, stating that the word “adopted” is unnecessary. This is an important distinction to make and one that is looked over frequently. There is a stigma place upon fostered or adopted children when using those kinds of terms and it is essential that these children be made to feel loved, cared for, and respected.

While most of us do not have the ability to discuss these topics with international media outlets, we can still work locally to promote fostering and adopting practices. The need for loving and caring foster parents is not contained only to the month of May, but every day, every month, and every year. So please take a little time out of your day to help promote great organizations like AGAPE of N.C. and help us give every child a forever home.

http://www.instyle.com/news/sandra-bullock-june-cover https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/faq/foster-care-5

Building a Foster Care Village, Part 5: Support Groups

by A Fostered Life

This is our last installment of the Building a Foster Care Village video series.  If you have not seen the previous 4 videos, please take a moment and catch up! Today's video talks about the benefits of a good Support Group.  Friends and family are wonderful, but there is a time where those walking a similar path are what you really need.  

Building Your Foster Family Village, Part 2

by A Fostered Life

Building your foster family village, by A Fostered Life, continues today with part 2. We hope you enjoyed Part 1 of this series, and if you haven't watched it we recommend you watch it first.  

In this video, Christy discusses not hesitating to take the time needed to find the right people to make up your village.  She covers pediatricians, dentist, psychiatrist and more. 

Building Your Foster Family Village

by A Fostered Life

A Fostered Life does such a good job in this video series we wanted to post it for all our foster families. In today's video Christy talks about the proactive role of the foster parent to build the village for your child.  There are many resources available to you and the positive investment of this village on the child in your care and your family are valuable.