Langevin Introduces Legislation to Aid Adoptive Families

Jul 23, 2019 Issues: Children and Families, Foster Youth, Rhode Island

WASHINGTON – Congressman Langevin (D-RI) today introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen mental health services for adopted children and their families to ensure every child has a safe, permanent home. Fellow Foster Youth Caucus co-chairs Don Bacon (R-NE) and Karen Bass (D-CA) joined Langevin in introducing the bill.

Across the country, child welfare agencies work to find permanent homes for youth in foster care, and in many cases, this means ensuring that an adoption or guardianship placement is successful long-term. Unfortunately, data show that at least one in ten adoptions dissolves after it is finalized, often because a family struggles with behavioral issues that stem from a child’s past trauma. The Supporting Adopted Children and Families Act establishes a federal grant program for developing, implementing, and evaluating statewide or tribal post-adoption and post legal-guardianship mental health services to ensure children and families are supported after a placement is finalized and encourage placement permanency.  

“Every child deserves to have a forever family, and I am incredibly grateful to the families in Rhode Island and across the country who have provided a child in need with that opportunity,” said Congressman Langevin. “However, the adoption process is not without challenges, and families need support even after the adoption or guardianship placement is finalized. The Supporting Adopted Children and Families Act helps adoptive families by providing the mental health services necessary to foster a successful long-term adoption. I thank Congressman Bacon and Congressmember Bass for joining me in introducing this bill to ensure vulnerable children find safe and permanent homes.”

“It is critically important that we deliver high quality and effective mental health services and supports to adopted children, youth and their families,” said Darlene Allen, CEO of Adoption Rhode Island. “This legislation will ensure that we design, deliver and evaluate promising practices across our system so we help children thrive and keep adoptive families together.”

“I applaud the sponsors of the Supporting Adopted Children and Families Act,” said David Caprio, President and CEO of Children’s Friend. “This legislation recognizes that adoption is not the end of a process, but rather the beginning of a new journey for a child who was the victim of abuse or neglect and their new permanent family. The comprehensive supports and services provided to children and families post adoption are key to the behavioral and mental health challenges these families face, and have been proven to help keep kids safe in permanent families and reduce the chance for the adoption to disrupt and fail.”

“The Supporting Adopted Children and Families Act would be life changing for many children and families in Rhode Island and across our country,” said Ted Sullivan, Senior Director of One Bethany Engagement at Bethany Christian Services. “Children moving from foster care to adoption have often experienced more hardship than any kid should have to bear. At Bethany, we believe safe and loving families are the best place for children to heal and that adoptive parents often need continued training and support to care for the children they have permanently welcomed into their family. We’ve seen firsthand that a continuum of care for adoptive parents that extends beyond adoption day makes a real difference in the lives of families. As an adoptive dad in Rhode Island, I am so grateful that Rep. Langevin is leading the way to make that continuum of care a standard for all adoption agencies.”

Permanent homes and families are vital for healthy child development, and adoption and guardianship failures cause even greater trauma for a child and can lead to unregulated custody transfers (known as “rehoming”). Langevin has introduced legislation to address this frightening phenomenon, which is defined as the abandonment of a child with a stranger that occurs outside of the child custody care system. Counseling, mentoring, and intervention services can prevent families from reaching the crisis point at which they can no longer care for their children.

The Supporting Adopted Children and Families Act authorizes grants for developing, implementing, and evaluating mental health programs for youth who are adopted or placed in a legal guardianship and their families (including treatment, mentoring, and crisis intervention services); developing adoption- and guardianship-competent education and training materials for providers and families; and researching promising practices for post-adoption mental health services. The bill requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to collaborate with foster youth and families, state agencies, providers, and specialists in carrying out the program and developing federal policies. It authorizes $10,000,000 for carrying out the program under Title IV-B, Subpart 2 of the Social Security Act.

Text of the Supporting Adopted Children and Families Act.