Earlier today the Senate Finance Committee passed two historic bills out of committee, the Improved Adoption Incentives and Relative Guardianship Support Act and the Elder Justice Act. The bills are a testament to the value of intergenerational cooperation and public policy.
Chairman Baucus began the markup by quoting Hubert Humphrey, “The moral test of government is how the government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life – the sick, the needy, and the handicapped.” By battling elder abuse and finding permanent homes for children, the Senate Finance Committee passed that intergenerational test with flying colors today.
The Improved Adoption Incentives Act contains many of the same provisions of the Kinship Caregiver Support Act, including authorizing subsidized guardianship to enable children in the care of grandparents and other relatives to exit foster care into permanency; establishing Kinship navigator programs to help link relative caregivers both inside and outside of the formal child welfare system to a broad range of services and supports that will help them meet the needs of the children in their care; requiring notice be given to adult relatives of a child if he or she is placed in foster care; and allowing states in a demonstration program the option to set separate licensing standards for relative foster parents and non-relative foster parents.
Chairman Baucus remarked that the Improved Adoption Incentives and Relative Guardianship Support Act was the most far-reaching and important piece of child welfare legislation the committee had considered in a decade.
There are still several steps before these important bills become law, but I don’t want to let this day pass without congratulating Senators Clinton, Grassley, Lincoln, Rockefeller and Snowe, and many others for their hard work and leadership to move both pieces of legislation.
Lastly, let me echo Senator Grassley's request that this legislation get passed before the Adoption Incentive Program expires at the end of the month. Our children have waited too long for a permanent home for us to delay any longer.