The following are other issues which need attention:
1. Allegations of Maltreatment Against Foster and Adoptive Families: The Coalition supports appropriate NYS legislation and/or regulations to address circumstances which make adoptive and foster families especially vulnerable to reports of abuse/neglect and susceptible to misjudgments. See the Coalition’s allegations position statement for specific recommendations.
2. Retention of custody in voluntary residential placements – cost neutral!
- Allow parents to retain custody in voluntary foster care placements so that parents aren’t faced with impossible choice of keeping family together or getting needed services.
- Families turn to the child welfare system because it may be the best placement or they have no insurance for other options, or other options are inaccessible.
- The Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) is the only NYS system that requires parents to relinquish custody in order to get out-of-home care.
- At least 13 states do not require relinquishment.
- For more information see the Bazelon Center on Mental Health Law
3. Data collection on adoption disruptions/dissolutions and the availability and delivery of preventive services: In order to get a better understanding of post adoption service needs, we need to know if children in foster care have experienced an adoption disruption or dissolution. Data comparable to that which is required by the Hague Convention for international adoptions needs to be collected for all domestic adoptions. Similarly, knowing more about preventive services provided by local districts and associated costs will provide important benchmarks and help further determine service needs.
4. Enhance Adoption and Foster Care Competence Among Mental Health Professionals: The Coalition has long been concerned with the difficulty NYS foster and adoptive families encounter finding mental health professionals who have training, experience and expertise in the unique, adoption-related issues that can affect foster and adoptive families. The Coalition strongly supports the following recommendations from the August 2013, Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute report, ” A Need to Know”:
- Develop certification for adoption clinical competence, so clients know that the professionals with whom they are working have the requisite knowledge, skills and experience to meet their needs.
- Expand training programs nationwide by replicating already effective models and through more use of technologies such as webinars, ” flip teaching” and ” massive open online courses.”
- Develop outreach efforts to inform mental health providers about the need for adoption competency, the opportunities for enhancing their knowledge, and the benefits of doing so.
- Educate insurance providers about the unique nature of adoption issues and advocate for expanded coverage, which would greatly help those who need competent services.
- Encourage graduate training programs and post-graduate clinical training centers to include more information about adoption and foster care in their curricula, since so little currently exists.
5. Tuition waivers for youth in or formerly in foster care for college or vocational training: Foster and former foster care youth need financial support for post secondary education or training. Providing tuition waivers for NYS institutions would provide youth with the ability to achieve the education needed for improved long-term outcomes and productive adulthood, and at minimal cost to the state. See the NACAC website for information on tuition waiver programs in other states.