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New Federal Incentives To Spur Adoptions

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 14) -- In an attempt to reduce the number of children in foster care homes, the Clinton Administration is moving ahead on a $21 million plan to provide incentives to states that successfully encourage more adoptions.

A Health and Human Services report that went to the president today recommends giving extra federal money to states that move more children from temporary foster care into adoption.

The proposal would provide $10 million for technical assistance to states; $10 million to help states break down barriers to adoption and place long-term foster care children; and $1 million for a public relations effort to boost adoptions. The money is already in the federal Fiscal Year 1998 budget.

Clinton

Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton met today with parents who are in the process of adopting children, as a way to draw attention to the plan.

Clinton said foster care should be a "temporary haven for children" but officials should not allow youngsters to languish in foster care forever.

The first lady, a longtime supporter of foster care children, added, "The report makes it clear that foster care should never be a permanent solution. No children should grow up in foster care."

New federal legislation that went into effect last month provides a tax credit of up to $5,000 to families who adopt a child, as long as their annual income is less than $115,000. Families who adopt harder-to-place children would be eligible for a $6,000 credit.

The report recommends changes in current legislation governing adoptions, to eliminate confusion and ambiguity.

A source told CNN that although adoptions are state regulated, there are some federal rules that must be met. But the report concludes the federal rules have caused confusion.

One is a requirement that within 18 months after a child is placed in foster care, a hearing must be held on the child's future. States often wait the full 18 months before holding the hearing. The report will call for legislation to change the time period to 12 months.

Another ambiguity is the federal requirement that states make "reasonable efforts" to reunite a child with its natural parents. However, it's not clear what constitutes a reasonable effort.


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