Adoptalk Spring 2013 Ensuring Children’s Well-Being: Analyzing Policies and Practices

Spring 2013
Adoptalk
Ensuring Children’s Well-Being:
Analyzing Policies and Practices
through a Child Rights Lens
by Marv Bernstein, chief policy advisor, UNICEF Canada, and Pat Convery, executive director, Adoption Council of Ontario
Before joining UNICEF Canada in 2010, Marv spent 28 years in legal and policy
positions in child welfare in Ontario and five years as the Children’s Advocate for
Saskatchewan. Pat is the executive director of the Adoption Council of Ontario. She has
worked in child welfare since 1975 and in adoption since 1982.
lthough North Americans typically greet one another with
the phrases “How are you?”
“Comment allez vous?” or “Como
estás?”, Masai warriors say “Kasserian
ingera?” (meaning “Are the children
well?”). This phrase—which puts children front and center—resonates
nicely for our work in child welfare,
permanency planning, and adoption,
and can help those of us in the child
welfare and adoption communities
remember the importance of having a
child rights focus at all levels of our
work. What better way to guide our
discussions, our advocacy, and our policy than to ask: “Are the children well?”
A
Contents
4 NACAC Honors Award Winners
7 An Adoptee’s Perspective
8 Adoption Incentive Program Set to
Expire
9 NACAC Welcomes New Board
Members
10 Adoption-Related Resources
12 NACAC Passes Position Statement
on Education
15 Join Us at AdoptWalk!
NACAC Makes a Difference
16 NACAC Conference Information
United Nations Convention on
the Rights of the Child
Almost universally around the world,
we believe children have the right to be
safe from physical harm, abuse, neglect,
and exploitation. We believe children
have the right to education, family relationships, and access to their culture.
The list goes on. These beliefs in children’s rights have been translated into
obligations for us to consider in our
practice by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.*
The four guiding principles of the
Convention on the Rights of the
Child are:
• Non-discrimination: All rights set
out in the Convention apply to all
children, who shall be protected
from all forms of discrimination,
regardless of race, colour, gender,
language, opinion, origin, disability,
birth, or any other characteristic.
• Best interests of the child: In all
actions concerning children, the best
interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
• Life, survival, and development:
Every child has the right to life, and
the state has an obligation to ensure
the child’s survival and development. This includes the right to a
standard of living, health, and education that is adequate for the child’s
physical, mental, spiritual, moral,
and social development.
• Respect for the child’s views: Children
have the right to participate and
express their views freely, and have
those views taken into account in
matters that affect them.
*available at www.ohchr.org/EN/Professional
Interest/Pages/CRC.aspx
Dominique
…continued on page 2
Dominique—a 16-year-old 10th grader—
loves to socialize with her peers. Her favorite
pastime is talking on the phone with her
friends. Sweet and caring, she describes herself as easygoing. Dominique’s lovely singing
voice shines in both the school and church
choirs. She also expresses her feelings in written form elegantly. Dominique loves to please
others and likes to help out around her home.
Dominique wants to be adopted and wants to
feel like she is a part of a family that will want
and love her forever. Her adoptive parents will need to help Dominique keep
making progress in school. For more information about Dominique, contact
Beverly Morris at Somerset County (Maryland) Department of Social Ser vices: 410-677-4375 or [email protected] B
Ensuring Children’s Well-Being
continued from page 1
Since its adoption by the United
Nations in 1989, this treaty has received
near-universal ratification by 193 countries. (Canada has ratified the Convention; the U.S. has signed but not ratified it, although it has ratified two
Optional Protocols.) The treaty has
inspired changes in policies to better
protect children, altered the way organizations see their work for children, led
to a better understanding of children as
having their own rights, and served as a
catalyst for children’s rights advocacy
and collaboration.
Children Need Special
Attention during Program and
Policy Design
The Convention on the Rights of the
Child reminds us that we must consider the potential impacts on children’s rights and interests in all legislation, policies, programs, and
practices. Children need this special
focus for many reasons:
• Children are particularly vulnerable
by virtue of their developmental
stage and dependence on adults.
• Children can be disproportionately
affected by adverse conditions. For
example, the adverse impacts of
poverty in a child’s early years can be
much greater than the effects of
poverty in adulthood.
• As non-voting citizens, children do
Adoptalk
Adoptalk is published quarterly. When
reprinting an article, please attribute as:
“From Adoptalk, published by the
North American Council on Adoptable
Children, St. Paul, Minnesota; 651644-3036; www.nacac.org.” Copy righted items (© 2013) can only be
reprinted with the author’s permission.
Comments and contributions welcome!
WRIGHT WALLING, President
JOE KROLL, Executive Director
MARY BOO, Adoptalk Editor
ISSN# 0273-6497
2 • Spring 2013 Adoptalk
not have the same opportunities as
adults to influence or complain about
public policy; instead, they must rely
on adults to advocate for them.
• Children are a significant segment
of the population and are more
affected by the action—or inaction—of government than any other
group.
• There is no such thing as a childneutral policy. Almost every area of
government policy affects children
to some degree.
• Children are also among the heaviest users of public services, such as
education, health, child care, and
youth services. As a result, children
can suffer the most from the fragmentation of public policy and services or from policies or services that
have unintended consequences.
Using a Child Rights Impact
Assessment to Ensure the Best
Outcomes for Children
So how do we bring the “Are the children well?” philosophy to bear on our
policy and practice development? The
Convention on the Rights of the
Child helps us do just that.
To make sure children’s best interests
are given priority consideration and all
the Convention’s provisions are
respected in policy, the monitoring
United Nations Committee on the
Rights of the Child has stated that
Child Rights Impact Assessments
(CRIA) are required of all ratifying
nations, and that “this process needs to
be built into government at all levels
and as early as possible in the development of policy.”
law or policy going to Executive
Council must have a completed
CRIA. Edmonton, Alberta, and
Saskatchewan have also been using
aspects of CRIAs. In Tennessee, the
Shelby County and Memphis governments use a web-based application to
develop, modify, and assess proposals
concerning safety, health, education,
and land use for their potential
impacts on children. England,
Scotland, Wales, Western Australia,
New Zealand, Belgium (Flanders),
and Sweden also regularly use these
assessments.
A CRIA involves a structured examination of a proposed law or policy,
administrative decision, or action to
determine its potential impact on all
children or a specific group of children, and a determination of whether
it will effectively protect and implement the rights set out for children in
the Convention. Potential impacts
may be positive or negative, intended
or not, direct or indirect, short- or
long-term. A CRIA should be undertaken whenever children might be
affected by new policies, proposed legislation, regulations, or budgets being
adopted, or other administrative decisions at any level of government.
There are three key steps to a CRIA:
• Selection, screening, and scoping —
CRIA should be used on those decisions most likely to have a significant impact on children, including
those that directly concern children—such as child welfare or child
health policy—and those that may
have a more indirect impact, such as
immigration or economic policies.
But a CRIA is not just something that
governments should use. It can be
used to good advantage by parliamentarians and legislators, child and youth
advocates, schools, universities, hospitals, child welfare organizations, professionals advocating for childcentred policy and legislative change,
and the private sector.
• Assessment — Advocates, policymakers, and administrators can use a
variety of tools to assess potential
impacts, including administrative
data, research, checklists, and
detailed modeling. The assessment
should explicitly address the Convention’s four core principles and the
other relevant articles. The analysis
can also help identify needed
changes to the policy or practice.
In Canada, the U.S., and internationally, the CRIA framework has already
found some support. In New
Brunswick, for example, a proposed
• Communication — Publicizing the
CRIA’s results and recommendations is essential to informing the
North American Council on Adoptable Children
decision-making process. Communication may be within government
agencies or to the broader community depending on where advocacy is
most needed.
From time to time, legislation and
policy have unintended negative consequences for the children they are
meant to benefit. Sometimes ideas
that work well for one group may have
unintended negative consequences for
another group of children. A Child
Rights Impact Assessment can help
avoid or mitigate such adverse impacts
and balance competing rights of different groups of children.
How an Assessment Can Make
a Difference
Ensuring that all policies, practices,
and actions have been thoroughly
examined through a lens of how they
affect children can help in a number of
ways. Such assessments:
• Balance the interests and rights of
various groups of children by analyzing the different and potentially
inequitable impacts, particularly for
children who are often marginalized
and most vulnerable, rather than
treating children as one homogenous group.
• Improve coordination across government by examining potential
impacts on the whole child across
the full scope of their rights, which
can lead to departments jointly
engaging in a stronger integrated
policy development model.
that can affect them in the long
term, including future generations.
• Avoid or mitigate costly errors by
addressing potential negative
impacts at an early stage of the policymaking process.
• Improve public support for policy
decisions by creating more transparent, collaborative, and defensible
policy processes, and by bringing
together external stakeholders,
including children and those
involved in policy development, for
focused discussion concerning
potential impacts on children.
Consider these examples of how a
CRIA can avoid unintended consequences and achieve better outcomes
for children:
• An agency makes a policy to never
separate siblings in adoption. A sibling group of five waits for many
years to be adopted because the oldest child is severely autistic and
needs extensive support that many
families cannot provide. If stakeholders had conducted a CRIA, they
might have built in some limited,
specific exceptions for adoption to
proceed where it is in the best interests of the other siblings with provision for post-adoption sibling contact and expanded funding and
counseling support services.
Sabrina
• A policy provides health coverage
and educational support to youth
who age out of care. A 17-year-old
youth who has been in foster care for
most of his life must now choose
between being adopted by a relative
or remaining in foster care to access
the benefits. A CRIA would likely
have uncovered this potential conflict, and perhaps led to extended
benefits being made available to
older adopted children.
The child rights framework can also
help advocates frame their arguments.
In Canada recently, adoptive parents
and adoption organizations advocated
for an increase in employment insurance maternity benefits for adoptive
parents. (Biological mothers currently
receive 15 weeks of maternity benefits
plus 35 weeks of parental leave; adoptive parents receive only the 35-week
parental leave).
Ultimately, the parliamentary committee refused the increased benefits,
basing its decision not on adopted
children’s needs, but on a belief that
biological mothers have rights that
adoptive parents do not. It is possible
this result may have been due, in part,
to adult-focused, rather than childcentred advocacy. Instead of talking
about the impact of the law on
…continued on page 9
• Recognize the need to consult with
children as legitimate stakeholders
in relevant policymaking areas, giving their views due consideration in
the process.
Seventeen-year-old Sabrina warms up easily
to adults and is very friendly. She thoroughly
enjoys adult attention, especially one-on-one.
At school, where Sabrina has special educational needs that require a nonpublic school
setting, Sabrina says that she likes being in a
small classroom because she enjoys the individualized attention from teachers. Sabrina
also enjoys playing sports, especially track
and field. She absolutely loves to dance and
often makes up her own routines. These special activities are large motivators for Sabrina,
and she responds well to the use of special
privileges as incentives for positive behavior. Sabrina has moderate hearing loss
in both ears and would like to help others by learning sign language and providing translation services.
• Consider second and third order
effects on children—not just the
immediate effects, but also those
Sabrina is waiting for the right forever family. Could that family be yours? If
so, contact Allison Ford at Somerset County (Maryland) Department of Social
Services at 410-677-4274 or [email protected] B
• Provide an opportunity for the
child’s best interests to be explicitly
considered in the decision-making
process, improving the likelihood of
positive outcomes.
• Improve the quality and quantity of
information available to decisionmakers.
North American Council on Adoptable Children
Spring 2013 Adoptalk •
3
NACAC Honors Its 2013
Award Winners
First Nations children while
challenging inequalities in
services. After decades of
working cooperatively with
the Canadian government, in
2007, the Caring Society and
n August 10, at the NACAC
Former president of the
the Assembly of First
conference in Toronto, we will
Adoption Council of
Nations filed a human rights
honor the following 2013
Canada’s board and forcomplaint alleging that the
NACAC award recipients. These
mer NACAC vice presiCanadian government’s failindividuals and groups have made
dent, Sandra currently
ure to provide equitable, culenormous contributions to adoption
consults on children’s Cindy Blackstock at turally based child welfare
Have a Heart day
and child welfare, and we are grateful
issues. As her nominaservices to First Nations chil2013, where First
for all that they do to support chiltors wrote, “Sandra’s
dren on reserve amounts to
dren, youth, and families.
entire career and body of Nations children and racial and ethnic discriminayouth gathered in
work make her Canada’s
Child Advocate of the Year
front
of Parliament tion. The Canadian Human
leading adoption advoRights Tribunal, which can
to call for equity
Sandra Scarth is a parent of four, two
cate. Her influence has
order a legally binding remof whom were older children adopted
been felt in almost every
edy to discrimination, began
from the child welfare
province and territory, and
hearing evidence in February. It is the
system. She is a social
her practice has always
most watched human rights case in
worker who has advobeen sensitive first and
Canadian history (learn more at
cated for more than 40
foremost to the needs of
www.fnwitness.ca).
years for improved perchildren and youth.”
manency planning for
Cindy’s goal is to educate and engage a
children and youth, for
critical mass of Canadians in a moveFriend of Children
post-placement services,
ment designed to end inequities for
and Youth
and for open adoption
First Nations children in child welfare,
Cindy Blackstock, Ph.D., is
records.
health, and education. More than
a member of the Gitksan
31,000 advocates have registered to
Nation and executive direcSandra worked at the
support these initiatives, and thousands
tor of the First Nations
Sandra Scarth
service delivery level in
of children, youth, and adults particiChild and Family Caring
three provinces and was
pate in Caring Society gatherings.
Society, which she co-founded in 1999.
responsible for policy and program
She is also an associate professor at the
development as director of children’s
Youth Advocates of the Year
University of Alberta. In her 25+ years
services for Ontario. She was the
Alisha Badeau grew up in foster care,
in child welfare, Cindy has been at the
founding executive director of the
placed with her aunt and uncle in
forefront of the movement to change
Child Welfare League of Canada. As
New Brunswick, and after aging out
discriminatory policies and actions
Canada’s non-governmental represenof care became a strong advocate for
toward First Nations children.
tative to the Hague Conference on
permanency. As a member of the
Intercountry Adoption, she attended
Her career includes positions in child
Adoption Council of Canada’s (ACC)
final deliberations and was one of
protection and in Indigenous child
Youth Speak Out initiative, Alisha
Canada’s signers of the Convention.
welfare and human rights education,
speaks eloquently about both flaws
policy, and research. Cindy has written
Sandra has served on the board of
and strengths in the child welfare sysmore than 50 publications, primarily
Justice for Children and Youth in
tem. Alisha also volunteers as a memaddressing disadvantages facing First
Toronto, the Canadian Coalition on
ber of the leadership team for the New
Nations children and families and prothe Rights of Children in Ottawa, and
Brunswick Youth in Care Network.
moting equitable, culturally based
the Society for Children and Youth of
In 2011, Alisha graduated from St.
interventions.
BC. In addition, she has served on
Thomas University with a bachelor’s
numerous task forces and has conAt
the
Caring
Society,
Cindy
uses
a
degree in psychology. Currently
ducted reviews of adoption services in
reconciliation
approach
set
out
in
the
employed as a youth care worker at a
Alberta and intercountry adoption
Touchstones
of
Hope
for
Indigenous
group home, Alisha’s dream is to
issues for the federal government. In
children
and
families
to
ensure
First
become an art therapist working with
2011 she co-authored Right to Family,
Nations
children
have
the
same
chance
children and youth in care.
Identity and Culture, a report docuto
grow
up
safely
at
home,
get
a
good
menting Canada’s progress in implegh
education, and be healthy and proud.
menting the United Nations ConAlisha Bowie is studying human
This approach includes highlighting
vention on the Rights of the Child.
rights at Carleton University in
evidence-informed solutions that uplift
O
4 • Spring 2013 Adoptalk
North American Council on Adoptable Children
Ottawa, and serves as a youth mentor
for the ACC Youth Speak Out initiative. Alisha lived in the same foster
home from ages 10 to 18, then lived
with roommates and on her own
before aging out of the system at age
21. Alisha is a proud sibling to eight
brothers and sisters who live all
around Canada; most of Alisha’s siblings were adopted.
Alisha’s experiences have led her to
become a strong advocate for permanency. She has spoken on Parliament
Hill and testified to the Standing
Committee on Human Resources,
Skills and Social Development and
the Status of Disabled Persons in its
study of Federal Support Measures to
Adoptive Parents. Alisha also served
as a Canadian delegate to a UN-sponsored conference about the rights of
the child. She is a strong role model
for other youth in the Speak Out initiative, and her goal is to continue her
advocacy efforts for youth in care.
Parent Groups of the Year
Founded in 1997, Adoptive and
Foster Families of Maine (AFFM)
provides support and services to hundreds of foster, adoptive, and kinship
parents across the state. Ultimately,
the organization’s goal is to help children find the security and homes they
deserve, and to help families prepare
for and deal with complex issues.
AFFM offers a wide variety of services, including a liaison program
where parents help other parents,
training for prospective adoptive and
foster parents, a large lending library
of books and videos for parents and
children, discounts from local businesses, support when dealing with
allegations of abuse, and training on
topics such as kinship care, children
with special needs, transitions, and
mentoring. In addition, AFFM hosts
community events such as an annual
statewide conference for 300 parents
and agency staff, a Foster Day event at
a park, and a tea with the Governor
and Maine’s First Lady at in honor of
adoption awareness month.
When Maine has faced potential or
actual cuts to foster care or adoption
benefits for families, AFFM has
played an active role in advocating
that families get the support they
need. In 2012, AFFM served more
than 500 kinship families, 1,100 foster
families, and 800 adoptive families.
gh
Families with Children from South
Africa is a social network for more than
100 Canadian families who are waiting
to adopt or have adopted from South
Africa. Run by parent volunteers, the
network enables children to build lifelong friendships with other children
adopted from South Africa. Through
peer support, mentoring, and personal
connections, the network increases children’s sense of belonging and provides a
link to their birth country.
Founded in 2006, the network meets
up to 12 times a year at sites around
Canada, coordinates attendance at
African events, organizes workshops,
and hosts an annual three-day retreat.
Each year to honour the South
African national holiday of April 27,
the group hosts a large Freedom Day
event with performances, dancing,
crafts, traditional face painting, and
special guests.
In an online group, parents share
experiences, ask questions, provide
information, and support others in all
stages of the process. Families with
Children from South Africa has created a travel guide for parents headed
to South Africa and a transracial
resource guide. The network believes
in Ubuntu, the South African philosophy of humanness, caring, and community that means “people are people
through other people.”
Adoption Activists
Marvin Bernstein is chief policy advisor for UNICEF Canada, where he
seeks to influence policy to promote
the rights and interests of Canadian
children. Since taking on this role in
2010, Marv has urged all governments
to view their work through a childcentered lens and has advocated for the
creation of a national children’s commissioner—a position that would bring
federal leadership to children’s issues.
Before 2010, Marv served as Saskatchewan’s Children’s Advocate, acting as a
voice for children and youth across the
province. Before that, he was director
of policy development and legal support at the Ontario Association of
Children Aid Societies, and served as
legal counsel at two Children’s Aid
Societies for more than 20 years.
During this time, he actively raised
awareness about the crown wards waiting to be adopted and helped improve
adoption practice. Marv served two
terms on the Adoption Council of
Ontario board and currently serves on
the board of the Toronto Children’s
Aid Society, the national Children’s
Law Committee of the Canadian Bar
Association, and on the Children in
Limbo Task Force. In addition to being
Destinie
…continued on page 6
Ten-year-old Destinie loves animals, and
would be thrilled to have a dog of her own.
Her favorite activities are playing games like
Uno, reading, painting, and singing. She has
a real interest in music (especially if it’s performed by Justin Bieber!), and hopes to find
a family who could teach her to play the
piano or guitar. In her fourth grade classes,
Destinie most enjoys writing stories.
Now in residential treatment, Destinie is
looking for a family who will provide her
with a lot of love, attention, structure, and support. They must also help her
keep in touch with her siblings in Virginia. For more information, contact
Diana Tracey at the Alexandria Department of Community and Human
Services: 703-746-5761 or [email protected] B
North American Council on Adoptable Children
Spring 2013 Adoptalk •
5
Award Winners
continued from page 5
a lawyer, he is an author who has written extensively on children’s rights,
child welfare, adoption, mediation, and
other topics.
As the person who nominated Marv
noted, “I am inspired by him.... His
wisdom and resolve will continue to
make a difference to children, youth,
and adoptive families in Canada for
many years to come.”
gh
Since 1978, Christopher Cherney has
been Mississippi Children’s Home
Society’s chief executive officer. As his
award nomination read: “Christopher
Cherney has been instrumental in
making a difference in the lives of children through his visionary leadership
that has guided Mississippi Children’s
Home Society for a third of the past
century.” Mississippi Children’s Home
Society serves more than 20,000 children, families, and others in a year—
seeking to improve the lives of children by promoting permanency.
For Chris, child welfare was a natural
choice—he was adopted and both of
his parents were social workers. Before
joining Mississippi Children’s Home
Society, Chris served as consultant and
assistant to the executive director at
the Child Welfare League of America,
and worked at Edwin Gould Services
for Children. A licensed clinical social
worker, Chris received his master’s
degree in social work from Columbia
University School of Social Work.
gh
“A true innovator and advocate for
both children needing permanency as
well as the parents who become their
forever family,” is how his nominator
describes Bob Herne. Bob is the executive director of California-based
Sierra Forever Families, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary of building
and supporting permanent families.
Bob has been a leader in advocating
for permanency and post-permanency
supports. In his role as director, he has
promoted a continuum of services to
help a child secure and maintain a forever family. He led his agency to provide concurrent services to reduce
lengths of stay and moves for children
in foster care. The agency’s Destination Family program is entering its
10th year of preparing teenagers and
assisting them in securing a forever
family. Bob has developed several
innovative post-permanency services,
including a model that wraps supports
around a family to deal with trauma
and strengthen attachment.
He is proud to be a founding member
of the Sacramento Community Champions Network, which is working collaboratively to access resources for and
empower adoptive families.
gh
Damien
Damien is a confident, loyal 15-year-old with varied
interests, including art, dogs, video games, and playing football. He has a new PlayStation® Vita, and
he most enjoys playing sports-themed games.
Damien’s favorite food is macaroni and cheese; he
asks that you please not ask him to eat any squash!
In his ninth grade special education classes, Damien
receives emotional and behavioral support. He’s on
target in school and his favorite subjects are math
and science. Damien hopes to put these subjects to
good use in the future—he aspires to be a hydraulic engineer one day.
Damien wants to be adopted and would really like a dad or a two-parent family. He’d prefer a family where he is the oldest or only child where he can get
some one-on-one attention. To learn more, contact Ilona Frederick at Children
Awaiting Parents: 585-232-5110/888-835-8802 or [email protected] B
6 • Spring 2013 Adoptalk
Debbie Jamieson has been a children’s
services worker at the Children’s Aid
Society of Toronto for 15 years. For
the past six years, she has worked as a
post-adoption service worker, ensuring that adoptive families are empowered, informed, and supported. The
parent support groups Debbie facilitates help parents tell stories, connect
with similar families, share knowledge
and resources, and normalize their
experiences.
In addition to running support groups,
Debbie helps families connect with
financial and other resources and has
compiled a post-adoption information
booklet for new adoptive families. Two
adoptive parents served by Debbie
note that she is “dedicated, kind, and
compassionate and possesses a wonderful sense of humour. Her ability to
listen and be present to families in
their struggle to be good parents is one
of her strongest attributes.”
gh
In the 1980s, after working with a
young woman who wanted to place
her child for adoption, Jennie Painter
found her calling—to support and
advocate for birth mothers. In 1987,
Jennie founded Adoption Resource
and Counselling Services (ARCS),
the first adoption service in Ontario to
specialize in open adoption. At the
time, open adoption was not very
popular, and Jennie had to persuade
others about the value of openness.
For more than 25 years, Jennie has
been an advocate for birth mothers (“a
fierce, feisty advocate” as one of her
nominators noted) and has advocated
for adoption services that balance the
needs of adoptive parents and birth
parents. Jennie helps birth parents to
work through their grief and loss and
to understand how they can play a
positive role in their children’s lives.
Jennie has lectured across Canada on
open adoption and offers a workshop
for professionals and parents on the
intricacies of open adoption relationships. She is currently writing a book
titled Building and Maintaining an
Open Adoption Relationship. B
North American Council on Adoptable Children
An Adoptee’s Perspective:
10 Things Adoptive Parents
Should Know
by Christina Romo, NACAC’s conference coordinator © 2013
Christina Romo is an adoptee who was adopted from South Korea at age two. She
works for NACAC and lives in Minnesota with her husband and their two sons. This
piece was originally posted on her blog, Diary of a Not-So-Angry Asian Adoptee
(http://diaryofanotsoangryasianadoptee.wordpress.com/).Please contact Christina at
[email protected] if you wish to use or distribute this piece.
1
Adoption is not possible without loss. Losing one’s birth parents is the most traumatic form
of loss a child can experience. That
loss will always be a part of me. It will
shape who I am and will have an effect
on my relationships—especially my
relationship with you.
2
Love isn’t enough in adoption,
but it certainly makes a difference. Tell me every day that I
am loved—especially on the days
when I am not particularly lovable.
3
Show me—through your words
and your actions—that you are
willing to weather any storm
with me. I have a difficult time trusting people, due to the losses I have
experienced in my life. Show me that
I can trust you. Keep your word. I
need to know that you are a safe person in my life, and that you will be
there when I need you and when I
don’t need you.
4
I will always worry that you will
abandon me, no matter how
often you tell me or show me
otherwise. The mindset that “people
who love me will leave me” has been
instilled in me and will forever be a
part of me. I may push you away to
protect myself from the pain of loss.
No matter what I say or do to push
you away, I need you to fight like crazy
to show me that you aren’t going anywhere and will never give up on me.
5
Even though society says it is
PC to be color-blind, I need you
to know that race matters. My
race will always be a part of me, and
society will always see me by the color
of my skin (no matter how hard they
try to convince me otherwise). I need
you to help me learn about my race
and culture of origin, because it’s
important to me. Members of my race
and culture of origin may reject me
because I’m not “black enough” or
“Asian enough,” but if you help arm
me with pride in who I am and the
tools to cope, it will be okay. I don’t
look like you, but you are my parent
and I need you to tell me—through
your words and your actions—that it’s
okay to be different. I have experienced many losses in my life. Please
don’t allow the losses of my race and
culture of origin to be among them.
6
I need you to be my advocate.
There will be people in our family, our school, our church, our
community, our medical clinic, etc.
who don’t understand adoption and
my special needs. I need you to help
educate them about adoption and special needs, and I need to know that
you have my back. Ask me questions
in front of them to show them that my
voice matters.
7
At some point during our adoption journey, I may ask about or
want to search for my birth family. You may tell me that being blood
related doesn’t matter, but not having
that kind of connection to someone
has left a void in my life. You will
always be my family and you will
always be my parent. If I ask about or
search for my birth family, it doesn’t
mean I love you any less. I need you to
know that living my life without
knowledge of my birth family has
been like working on a puzzle with
missing pieces. Knowing about my
birth family may help me feel more
complete.
North American Council on Adoptable Children
8
Please don’t expect me to be
grateful for having been
adopted. I endured a tremendous loss before becoming a part of
your family. I don’t want to live with
the message that “you saved me and I
should be grateful” hanging over my
head. Adoption is about forming forever families—it shouldn’t be about
“saving” children.
9
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I
may need help in coping with
the losses I have experienced
and other issues related to adoption.
It’s okay and completely normal. If the
adoption journey becomes overwhelming for you, it’s important for
you to seek help, as well. Join support
groups and meet other families who
have adopted. This may require you to
go out of your comfort zone, but it
will be worth it. Make the time and
effort to search for and be in the company of parents and children/youth
who understand adoption and understand the issues. These opportunities
will help normalize and validate what
we are going through.
10
Adoption is different for
everyone. Please don’t compare me to other adoptees.
Rather, listen to their experiences and
develop ways in which you can better
support me and my needs. Please
respect me as an individual and honor
my adoption journey as my own. I
need you to always keep an open mind
and an open heart with regard to
adoption. Our adoption journey will
never end, and no matter how bumpy
the road may be and regardless of
where it may lead, the fact that we
traveled this road together, will make
all the difference. B
Spring 2013 Adoptalk •
7
Adoption Incentive Program
Set to Expire
n February 27, the U.S. House
of Representatives Committee
on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources held a
hearing on increasing adoptions from
foster care. The hearing was designed
to gather information about the Adoption Incentive program, which is set to
expire in September 2013, as well as
other ideas about how to ensure permanence for children in care. Witnesses called for Adoption Incentives
reauthorization and efforts to find
families for older children and children
who may be harder to place.
O
Currently, states earn a $4,000 bonus
for each foster child adopted above its
2007 baseline and another $8,000 for
increases in adoptions of children nine
or older. If states improve in either of
these categories or their adoption rate,
they also receive bonuses of $4,000 for
each younger child with special needs
adopted above the baseline. If funding
is available, states may also receive a
bonus if they achieve their highest rate
of adoption (the number of children
adopted divided by the total foster care
caseload at the end of the prior year).
In Child Welfare: Structure and Funding
of the Adoption Incentives Program along
with Reauthorization Issues, Emile
Stoltzfus of the Congressional Research
Service reports several facts about the
Adoption Incentive program:
• The annual appropriation for the
program has been about $39 million,
but a 5 percent sequestration cut will
reduce the amount available for fiscal
year 2012 adoptions to $37.5 million.
• The number of children in foster
care waiting to be adopted has
decreased—from around 130,000
from 1998 to 2011 to the current
number of 104,000. The proportion
of foster children who are waiting
for adoption has actually increased
slightly over time (from 22 percent
to 26 percent from 1998 to 2011).
• In spite of reductions in foster care
caseloads, adoptions have remained
relatively high: “Viewed as a rate—
that is the number of children
adopted during a given fiscal year
for every 100 children who were in
foster care on the last day of the preceding fiscal year—public child welfare agency adoptions doubled since
the late 1990s (from a rate of
roughly 6 adoptions per 100 children in foster care to 12 per 100).”
• Since the program was amended in
2008 in the Fostering Connections
Brian
Sixteen-year-old Brian enjoys outings and
being on the go. His favorite activities are
playing and watching football, especially
the Pittsburgh Steelers. His whole room is
covered in Steelers décor and he can often
be seen in Steelers jerseys and hats. Brian
is currently in 11th grade and after school
hours is studying to get his driver’s permit.
At home, he is very responsible and helps
with chores. He even takes on extra chores
to earn money to buy clothes and shoes. But Brian knows how to have fun
too—he is quite funny and loves to make others laugh.
Brian has a lot of potential, which many in his life have recognized. If you see
the potential for Brian to join your family, please contact Jerri Crockett at
Somerset County (Maryland) Department of Social Services at 410-677-4359
or [email protected] B
8 • Spring 2013 Adoptalk
Act, 44 states have received awards.
Five of the states that did not receive
awards actually increased their rate
of adoption in one or more years but
no funding was available for adoption rate bonuses.
• States have spent bonus payments
on adoption recruitment and postadoption services, training for adoption workers, adoption assistance or
foster care maintenance payments,
other permanency services, and programs to keep children out of care.
The report also includes detailed
charts on each state’s Adoption Incentive awards by category.
NACAC submitted testimony to the
subcommittee making a number of
recommendations:
• Base the incentive on states’ rate of
adoption so states that reduce foster
care caseloads are not penalized
• Require incentive payments be spent
on post-adoption services
• Consider revising the program to
provide incentives for all forms of
safe permanence, including reductions in foster care, increases in successful reunification or adoptions or
guardianship placements that don’t
disrupt, and reductions in the number of youth who age out of care
In addition, NACAC recommended
making the adoption tax credit refundable again, which should increase the
pool of families able to adopt. The current nonrefundable credit gives a significant benefit to higher-income taxpayers (preliminary IRS data suggest
that if the 2011 credit hadn’t been
refundable, 73 percent of benefits
would have gone to households making $100,000 or more), even though
families who adopt from foster care
typically have lower household
incomes than those who adopt internationally or privately. Our testimony
also encouraged Congress to support
efforts that successfully find families
for older children and youth who may
be harder to place for adoption. We
hope Congress takes the opportunity
to make changes to increase children’s
chances of finding and remaining in a
permanent family. B
North American Council on Adoptable Children
Ensuring Children’s Well-Being
continued from page 3
adopted children and discriminatory
impacts upon those adopted children,
many advocates talked about maternity benefits as a competition between
biological and adoptive parents. A
CRIA would have likely identified
bonding as a critical element that
must occur in the early stages of a parent-child relationship. In a birth family, bonding starts before the child is
born. When an adopted child has
experienced loss, neglect, abuse, or
difficult transitions, her ability to form
healthy relationships and feel secure is
damaged. Adoptive families therefore
need at least as much time to help
adopted children adjust, recover, and
bond—a consideration that wasn’t
properly raised by advocates or
addressed by the committee.
Child Rights-Proofing
Legislation, Policy, and
Practice
Even when a Child Rights Impact
Assessment is not required, advocates,
policymakers, administrators, and
others can use it as a tool to help
ensure proposed changes result in the
best possible outcomes for children.
We have a collective responsibility to
give the protection of children’s rights
the highest priority. Dialogues on the
implementation of children’s rights
should not be the limited purview of
elected officials, but should be taking
place in our homes, schools, workplaces, and government offices.
Using Child Rights Impact Assessments with greater frequency will
enable us to ensure laws, policies, and
practices have been child rightsproofed—that we have considered
carefully how they will affect children. This, in turn, will lead to more
positive and affirmative responses
when we pose the question “Are the
children well?” B
Learn more about Child Rights Impact
Assessments at www.unicef.ca/en/policyadvocacy-for-children/what-is-a-childrights-impact-assessment.
NACAC Welcomes New Board
Members
n February 2013, NACAC was delighted to welcome two new members
to our board of directors—Daryle Conquering Bear and John Ireland. We
are grateful to both Daryle and John for sharing their expertise and experience with NACAC.
I
Daryle Conquering Bear of Colorado is an enrolled
member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. He aged out of
the Colorado foster care system after spending
more than seven years in care. After struggling with
the loss of culture and identity, Daryle has become
a strong advocate for youth in care, particularly
Indian youth. Daryle started his advocacy work as
an All Star intern with FosterClub. Other highlights from his advocacy career include holding a
youth consultant position for National Resource
Center for Youth Development, testifying before
Congress on racial disproportionality in foster care while raising awareness on
Native American issues, serving as a member of the Colorado Youth
Leadership Board, mentoring for the Colorado Youth Program, and being a
2012 Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute intern. While in D.C.,
Daryle wrote a report to Congress on the effects of the Indian Child Welfare
Act and spoke to several Senators and Representatives about the impact
ICWA had on his stay in foster care.
Daryle currently serves as an advisory council member for the National
Resource Center for Tribes, and is finishing a political science degree at Fort
Lewis College. His motto has and will always be: “Leave no Indian child
behind.”
John Ireland and his husband Duncan are the foster/adoptive parents of siblings Emma (8) and Giovanni (5). John is executive director of The Champion
Fund at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (California) Division of Adolescent
Medicine. He also acts as media director for RaiseAChild.US (http://
raiseachild.us/), which he founded with another foster father in 2010.
The mission of RaiseAChild.US is to encourage the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and
transgender (LGBT) community to build families through fostering and
adoption. In the past two years, it has recruited nearly 1,000 prospective foster parents through campaigns in Northern and
Southern California and New York City. In addition
to recruiting, the organization’s parent advocates
provide mentoring and guidance to help resolve
roadblocks that may arise as recruits train, certify,
and are matched with waiting children.
Since 2002, John has served as a nonprofit consultant
on issues such as board governance, fund development, recruitment, and retention. In 2007, John produced a short film entitled Finding Family: Gay
Adoption in the U.S., which profiled the patchwork of
laws affecting gay and lesbian parents across the
country. Since its premiere at San Francisco’s Frameline Film Festival, it has
played at festivals across the U.S. and Europe and aired on PBS. B
North American Council on Adoptable Children
Spring 2013 Adoptalk •
9
Adoption Related-Resources
Research Briefs & Reports
Annual Report to Congress on State
Child Welfare Expenditures
Reported on the CFS-101
U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services (HHS). 2012. Each year,
HHS prepares for Congress a summary of states’ reports of child welfare
spending. The compiled report
includes funding sources that states
use for child protection and birth and
adoptive family support. http://
1.usa.gov/VnKgbc
Child Welfare: States Use Flexible
Federal Funds, But Struggle to Meet
Service Needs
Government Accountability Office
(GAO). 2012. This report highlights
how U.S. states patch together funds
from a variety of sources to care for
thousands of children who have been
abused or neglected. To assess child
welfare services funding, the GAO
reviewed laws, analyzed expenditures,
and interviewed child welfare officials
and experts to find that many states
are having trouble meeting demand
for services. www.gao.gov/products/
GAO-13-170
Children’s Mental Health:
Concerns Remain about Appropriate
Services for Children in Medicaid
and Foster Care
Government Accountability Office
(GAO). 2012. This report explores the
availability and use of mental health
services for children and youth in foster care and on Medicaid. Key findings showed that 18 percent of foster
children surveyed were taking psychotropic medications and 30 percent
of children in need of mental health
services did not receive services within
the last year. www.gao.gov/products/
GAO-13-15
Medicaid and Children in
Foster Care
By Kamala D. Allen, MHS, and Taylor
Hendricks, MS, of the Center for Health
Care Strategies. 2013. Addressing the
many health needs facing children in
foster care and the barriers to accessing care, this report speaks to the role
10 • Spring 2013 Adoptalk
of Medicaid, the importance of working across systems, and the policy
changes needed to improve the health
and well-being of children in care.
http://childwelfaresparc.com/2013/03
/25/medicaid-and-children-in-fostercare/
Prenatal Substance Abuse: Shortand Long-term Effects on the
Exposed Fetus
The American Academy of Pediatrics
(AAP). 2013. This technical report
addresses the worldwide problem of
prenatal substance abuse, provides
information for the most common
substances involved in fetal exposure,
and discusses the effects of exposure.
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/
content/early/2013/02/20/peds.20123931.full.pdf+html
Recommendations to Scale the
Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Model
The Dave Thomas Foundation for
Adoption’s 20th Anniversary Panel of
Distinguished Experts. 2013. In 2004,
the Dave Thomas Foundation for
Adoption launched its Wendy’s Wonderful Kids (WWK) initiative.
Through these Foundation-funded
targeted recruitment programs, children were up to three times more
likely to be adopted. In an effort to
dramatically increase the number of
children adopted from foster care in
North America, a panel of distinguished experts make funding, communication, and policy recommendations for expanding the WWK model.
http://bit.ly/WNkSKu
Untangling the Web: The Internet’s
Transformative Impact on Adoption
Jeanne A. Howard, PhD. 2012. This
report is the first in a multi-year project on the effect of the internet and
social media on adoption. Finding
birth relatives, useful adoption-related
information, and children and youth
who need families has become easier,
but there have been negative impacts
as well. The report encourages discussion of policy changes and best practices to assure legal and ethical adoption practices that protect children’s
NACAC Offers
Webinars
NACAC is hosting three webinars
taught by experienced individuals
who are adoption professionals and
adoptive parents. Each is an
acclaimed speaker who has received
rave reviews at the NACAC conference and other speaking venues.
• Parenting Children Who Have
Been Prenatally Exposed — by
Kari Fletcher — Tuesday, May 21
• Understanding the Acting-Out
Behavior of Your Adopted Children
— by Maris Blechner — Tuesday,
June 18
• Helping Children Heal from
Trauma: What Parents and Caregivers Need to Know — by Sue
Badeau — Thursday, July 18
All sessions are at 7 pm central time
(5 pm pacific, 6 pm mountain, 8 pm
eastern). Fees for each webinar are
$15 for NACAC members and $20
for non-members. Even if you cannot attend the session in person,
you can still register and receive a
recorded version of the session after
it's over. Certificates of attendance
will be available upon request.
Learn more at www.nacac.org/
conference/trainingwebinars.html. B
interests. www.adoptioninstitute.org/
research/2012_12_Untanglingthe
Web.php
Guidebook
The Family Guide to Mental Health
Care
Lloyd I. Sederer, MD. 2013. This book
is a reader-friendly, comprehensive
resource for those whose loved ones
suffer from a mental illness. Dr.
Sederer answers mental health questions, advises what to do and how to
help, and provides family members
with examples and practical tools.
Available for purchase at http://
professionalbooks.createsend4.com/
t/y-l-jkilcl-ndllujutr-j/
North American Council on Adoptable Children
Curriculum
All Children – All Families (ACAF)
Training
The Human Rights Campaign’s
ACAF which helps the adoption
community better respond to the
needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ)
prospective adopters and LGBTQ
youth in care—has released its fifth
training module. Module 5 is
designed to improve staff skills in
organizations that provide services to
youth in care to ensure careful and
sensitive consideration of each youth’s
unique developmental trajectories.
www.downsconsultinggroup.com/acaf
-module5.html.
Academic Articles
Open Adoption: Adoptive Parents’
Reactions Two Decades Later
Deborah Siegel. 2012. This study of 44
adoptive parents with open infant
adoptions started in 1988. Through
in-depth interviews conducted every
seven years the author explored the
impact, evolution, and challenges of
open adoption over time for each family. www.oxfordjournals.org/
The Revolving Door of Family
Court: Confronting Broken
Adoptions
Dawn J. Post and Brian Zimmerman.
Published in the Capital University
Law Review. 2012. The authors
undertook an extensive study to best
determine how many adopted children are returned to foster care—and
why. Through examples and striking
survey data from New York family
court cases, workers, judges and
lawyers, the authors explore the problems that lead to disrupted adoptions
and recommend best practices to
identify appropriate adoptive parents
and to better prepare and support
adoptive families. www.clcny.org/wpcontent/uploads/2012/07/therevolving-doors-of-family-courtconfronting-broken-adoptions.pdf
Fact Sheets & Toolkits
College Financial Aid Resources for
Former Foster Youth
Voice for Adoption. 2013. Created in
response to requests from students
and parents seeking information
about college scholarships and other
financial aid opportunities, this
resource sheet lists potential financial
aid options for youth who are, or once
were, in foster care. http://bit.ly/
110hz3G
Trauma-Informed Child
Welfare Practice
The University of Minnesota’s Center for
Advanced Studies in Child Welfare and
the Ambit Network. Winter 2013. This
resource guide provides the latest
research, policies, and practices that
recognize and address the impact of
trauma on children and families in the
child welfare system. Aimed at child
welfare professionals, the publication
guides the incorporation of traumainformed organizational and practice
strategies using the best available science and real-life scenarios to facilitate safety, resiliency, and recovery.
www.cehd .umn .edu/ssw/c ascw/
Publications/cw360.asp
Working with Siblings in Foster Care
National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections. This
web-based toolkit addresses the
importance of sibling relationships for
children and youth in foster care.
Based on literature reviews and current practice, the toolkit is organized
Collin
into 10 practice components that contain resources, policy examples, and an
organizational self study for child welfare agencies. www.nrcpfc.org/toolkit/
sibling/index.html
Web Sites
The 50 State Chartbook on
Foster Care
Administered by Boston University,
funded by The MENTOR Network
Charitable Foundation, the Chartbook provides data on current foster
care programs, policies, and financing
for each state and D.C. Designed to
inform policymakers, administrators,
and advocates, the web site allows easy
state-to-state data comparisons and
highlights innovative initiatives and
best practices.
www.bu.edu/ssw/
usfostercare/
Adoption Parenting Pathways (APP)
Adoption Learning Partners has
added a page to its web site that
enables adoptive parents and adoption
professionals to quickly find information on an array of adoption relevant
topics and local and online resources
including workshops, therapists, support groups, and more. The information will continue to grow as additional resources are added over time.
www.adoptionlearningpartners.org/
pathways/ B
Nine-year-old Collin has fun bike riding, playing
outside, and swimming. He also enjoys swinging on
a swing set, especially if someone is there to push
him! A hands-on kid, Collin likes crafts, baking, and
decorating cookies. Other favorite ways to relax
include playing with toys or watching TV. Friendly,
affectionate, and joyful, Collin gets along well with
other children and loves animals. He also appreciates
positive attention from adults, and likes to sit and
talk. He enjoys giving gifts and being helpful and has
gotten along really well with his foster parents.
Collin wasn’t in school until he was six, so he still needs time to develop his academic skills. He’s currently in third grade, and recently enjoyed singing in a
school talent show.
Collin needs a family who can give him unconditional love while setting clear
expectations and providing him with structure. He has formed strong attachments to others, and will be able to bond with his adoptive family. To learn
more, contact Ilona Frederick at Children Awaiting Parents: 585-2325110/888-835-8802 or [email protected] B
North American Council on Adoptable Children
Spring 2013 Adoptalk •
11
NACAC Board Passes Position
Statement on Education Needs
education, ensuring that they operate
as a team to achieve the best educational outcomes possible.
At its February 2013 meeting, the NACAC board of directors passed the position statement below on the educational needs of foster and adopted children. We encourage all
members of the adoption community to use the statement to advocate for changes based on
its suggestions. Please share it with others in your area who have the ability or commitment to improve educational outcomes for children and youth in foster care or adoption.
Educational Needs of
Children in Foster Care
and Adoption
Philosophy
Children in foster care are more likely
than children and youth who are not
involved in child welfare to have been
exposed to trauma, more likely to have
changed schools, more likely to have
moved from one home to another, and
less likely to have access to comprehensive assessments. As a result of these
life experiences and system failures,
children and youth in foster care are
more likely to have difficulty in school
than other children and youth. Many
adopted children and youth have difficulty as well. For example, foster children and youth are more likely to
repeat a grade, do worse on standardized tests, or drop out of school. Many
foster children and youth change
schools far too often as they change
foster care placements, and school
changes hinder academic achievement.
Foster children and youth and those
adopted from care are also more likely
to receive or need special educational
services than other children and youth.
Many of these children and youth also
have behavioral issues or special needs
that may make succeeding in school
more challenging.
Too often, foster children and youth are
automatically placed in special education simply because of their foster care
status rather than having the benefit of
rigorous assessment of their actual
needs and strengths. On the other
hand, due to the frequent moves and
instability in their lives, there are many
children and youth in foster care who
could benefit from special education
12 • Spring 2013 Adoptalk
supports who slip through the cracks
and never receive needed services.
Adopted and foster children and
youth also too often face school
assignments (such as family trees,
autobiographies, or baby picture contests) and language (“natural” or “real”
instead of “birth” parent; “children of
their own and an adopted child”) that
isolates them and affects their school
experience.
In addition, there is growing recognition that children and youth in foster
care receive harsher discipline—
including more frequent suspensions,
expulsions, and police intervention—
than their non-foster care peers. This
phenomenon contributes to significant numbers of foster youth crossing
over to the juvenile or criminal justice
system and it adversely affects their
academic achievement.
Improvements in each school district’s
special educational services for all
children with special needs would
help many foster and adopted children
and youth. In addition, the education
and child welfare systems should partner with each other to improve outcomes specifically for foster and
adopted children and youth, to ensure
they have greater school continuity,
appropriate special education assessments and assignments, educational
achievement, and academic success.
Schools and their child welfare partners should see each child or youth as
an individual—with strengths and
challenges—and seek to provide educational and support services to meet
the individual child or youth’s needs.
In addition, schools and the child welfare system must actively engage families—birth, kinship, foster, and adoptive—in all areas of a child’s or youth’s
Policy Recommendations
Policymakers should:
• In the U.S., ensure full implementation of the educational stability provisions of the Fostering Connections
to Success and Increasing Adoption
Act, and implement comparable
provisions across Canada, including:
• Requiring the child welfare
agency to consider school and
educational issues in placement
decisions
• Keeping the child or youth in the
same school if possible
• If the child or youth must change
schools, requiring collaboration to
ensure prompt enrollment
• Allowing transportation to
school to be covered as a foster
care payment
• Monitoring
attendance
enrollment
and
• Ensuring that youth at risk of
aging out of care have a transition
plan that includes an education
plan
• In the U.S., ensure full implementation of the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act and
implement comparable provisions
across Canada, including:
• Mandating that services be tailored to the child or youth’s individual needs instead of his or her
particular disability or disabilities
• Requiring that individualized
education plan (IEP) teams consider all factors—including a student’s behavior—that impede
learning
• Outlining discipline procedures
and services that children and
youth must receive when removed
from school
• Completing a student’s initial
special education evaluation
within a specified time, even if the
student changes districts
• Maintaining comparable services
North American Council on Adoptable Children
in an IEP even if a student
changes districts in the middle of
the school year
• Ensuring the fast transfer of all
school records
Practice Recommendations
States, provinces, territories, First
Nations, tribes, and local educational
agencies should:
• Require local education agencies to
help ensure educational stability, just
as the Fostering Connections Act
required child welfare agencies to
address this issue. States, provinces,
tribes, First Nations, territories, and
local districts should also eliminate
rules that tie attendance strictly to
residence and those that require certain records for enrollment.
• Promote collaboration among child
welfare and education agencies,
including co-locating staff in local
offices, identifying specific educational liaisons to the child welfare
system and child welfare liaisons to
the education system, and coordinating and funding transportation to
schools when necessary for children
and youth who change placements
• Ensure courts have oversight of foster children and youth’s education,
and require educational needs and
progress be discussed during court
hearings.
• Jointly train teachers, school social
workers, and other educational professionals about the specific needs of
foster and adopted children and
youth, including attachment issues,
fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, the
effects of trauma, grief and loss, and
other common issues in foster care
and adoption
• Enable schools and child welfare
agencies to share information with
one another about a child or youth’s
education needs and progress, while
continuing to protect the child or
youth’s privacy; the U.S. Uninterrupted Scholars Act of 2012 is a step
in the right direction and must be
widely publicized and fully implemented to improve information
sharing among government agencies
to improve educational outcomes for
children in foster care.
• Require the education and child
welfare systems to collaborate to
create an electronic, accessible educational passport for each child and
youth in care, with the passport to
include educational records, academic performance data, and other
relevant information and to help
ensure the smooth transfer of credits
across jurisdictions
• Fund and implement tuition waiver
programs to ensure that youth who
are in foster care at age 16 or older
have expanded access to education
at public colleges and universities in
their community
• In the U.S., maintain and more fully
fund the Education and Training
Voucher program for youth aging
out of foster care and youth adopted
as teens; implement a comparable
program in Canada
• Encourage parents and the school
system to use all legal mechanisms
to identify and support children and
youth with special needs, including
section 504 plans in the U.S. and the
Identification Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) process in
Canada
• Avoid placing a child or youth into
special education status simply
because he or she is in foster care;
Jovani
instead ensure that each student
receives a comprehensive assessment
of his or her individual capabilities
and needs
• Prevent unnecessary school moves;
if such moves are necessary, ensure
easy transfer of records and prevent
loss of credits
• Implement credit recovery programs
to help students who have lost credits due to moves
• Create flexibility in school rules and
regulations so that educational systems respond to the specific needs of
each child and youth, such as allowing children and youth who would
benefit to attend mainstream school
part of the day and attend special
classes or be home schooled for
other parts of the day
• Remove any policy or practice barriers so that foster children and youth
are able to fully participate in
extracurricular activities, arts, and
sports
• Implement effective anti-bullying
programs; educate teachers and educational professionals about the
increased likelihood of bullying for
foster and adopted children and
youth and children and youth with
special needs
...continued on page 14
Jovani, who will turn 13 this June, enjoys
playing basketball and football when he has
free time. He also loves to watch football and
to listen to dance and hip hop music. A
sociable and polite youth, Jovani has many
friends—including one best friend he’s
known since before he came into foster care.
Jovani is working hard and doing well in his
sixth grade classes, where he has 100 percent
attendance. When he is older, Jovani would
like to become a family doctor or a chef. His foster parents report that Jovani
seems really happy when he’s cooking.
Jovani has two sisters whom he visits regularly. He’s looking for a forever family that can help him follow his dreams and maintain connections with the people who are important to him. He’d like an active family that knows how to
have fun and likes to travel. Could that be you? For more information, contact
Aura Duque at CHARLEE of Dade County (Florida): 305-779-9710 or
[email protected] B
North American Council on Adoptable Children
Spring 2013 Adoptalk •
13
Position Statement
continued from page 13
• Educate and engage all parents and
caregivers about their rights and the
rights of their children and youth
and the importance of caregivers’
proactive role in supporting the
desired educational outcomes for
the children and youth in their care
• Engage students in their education;
empower them to advocate for their
own educational needs and goals
• Ensure that the schools communicate clearly and regularly with foster
children’s and youth’s caregivers and
workers
• For foster children and youth,
ensure that both their foster parent
and worker are at IEP meetings and
understand and agree to the plan;
make allowances for birth parents,
foster parents, and adoptive parents
to jointly attend such meetings
when a placement or permanency
transition is imminent
• Create a program in each community that provides educational advocates for foster children and youth
who are struggling in school to help
ensure that the school is able to
meet their needs
• Provide positive behavioral supports
to address behavior problems,
including providing services to keep
children and youth in inclusive settings and offering special educational settings and classes for youth
with behavior problems but not
learning disabilities
NACAC Membership
ACAC needs member support to work effectively on behalf of children who wait. All members get Adoptalk, as well as discounted conference, webinar, and advertising rates. Enhanced parent group, organizational, and national/corporate members also get discounts for multiple
members/employees, as well as NACAC publication discounts. Join today!
N
MEMBERSHIP TYPE (check one) ONE-YEAR RATE
Individual/family
m $45 US/$50 Canadians
m $45 US/$50 Canadians
Parent group
Enhanced parent grp* m $200 US/$220 Canadians
m $200 US/$220 Canadians
Organizational*
National/corporate*
m $1,000 US/$1,100 Cdns
THREE-YEAR RATE
m $115 US/$130 Canadians
m $115 US/$130 Canadians
m $515 US/$570 Canadians
m $515 US/$570 Canadians
m $2,600 US/$2,850 Cdns
Name
Organization
Address
State/Province
Daytime Phone (check one) m Home m Work
Zip/Postal Code
• Increase access to early childhood
education programs (such as Head
Start) for foster children ages birth
to five and, in the U.S., ensure that
foster children ages birth to five are
appropriately assessed for early
intervention services under IDEA
Part C
• Offer services for older foster youth
and youth adopted as teens to
increase their readiness for post-secondary education, inform them of
and connect them to post-secondary
educational opportunities, and provide them with mentors and other
supportive services to increase success during post-secondary education
• Collect data about educational outcomes of foster children and youth;
analyze data to identify successful
educational supports and programs
that can be replicated B
Between issues of Adoptalk, there
are two great ways to stay in touch:
E-mail Address
o Check here to receive Adoptalk by e-mail.
Spring 2013 Adoptalk
• Like NACAC on Facebook —
www.facebook.com/NACAC
adoption
Enclose a check payable to NACAC for the fee indicated above. Please note that
Canadian fees are higher to reflect the higher costs of mailing to Canada.
Canadian members are charged Canadian fees regardless of currency used.
Contributions above the membership fee are tax deductible for U.S. donors.
* Enhanced parent group and organizational members receive 5 copies of Adoptalk; national/
corporate members can request up to 25 copies. Extra subscriptions are $20 US/$25 Cdn.
NACAC • 970 Raymond Ave., #106 • St. Paul, MN 55114
651-644-3036 • [email protected] • www.nacac.org • Fed ID#51-0188951
14 • Spring 2013 Adoptalk
• Ensure that school assignments are
respectful of foster and adopted
children and youth; train teachers to
use positive adoption and foster care
language choices and to avoid or
provide alternatives to assignments
that involve family trees or baby pictures that are difficult for children
not living with their birth family
Stay Connected
with NACAC
(check one) m Home m Work
City
• Ensure that policies and procedures
are in place so that foster children
and youth do not receive harsher
disciplinary actions than other children and youth; train teachers and
other school staff about the reality
that foster children and youth often
receive disparate treatment
• Sign up for our biweekly e-mail
newsletter News for NACAC —
www.nacac.org/signupform.
html (please add [email protected]
to your address book so our messages don’t get marked as junk)
North American Council on Adoptable Children
Join Us at
AdoptWalk!
n May 18, adoptive
families and adoption professionals
from around Minnesota
will come together to raise
money for NACAC and
increase awareness about
the fact that children
need a permanent loving family. The event
features a family-friendly
walk around Lake Nokomis in
Minneapolis, followed by a picnic for
participants.
O
Participants show their support for
waiting children who dream of finding loving, permanent families. Funds
raised support NACAC's work to
assist and train adoptive parents, educate adoption professionals, and provide services and information to families who have adopted children with
special needs. If you’re going to be in
the area, please learn more and register
to attend at www.nacac.org/about/
adoptwalk.html.
If you can't be there in person, we
hope you can make a contribution to
show your support! Gifts from U.S.
donors are tax deductible, and all contributions make a real difference in
NACAC’s ability to promote adoption
and support adoptive families.
Please make your donation today at
h t t p s : / / w w w. n a c a c . o r g / s e c u re /
donorform.html. B
NACAC Makes a Difference
ACAC’s Adoption Support Network (ASN) provides adoptive parentto-parent support across Minnesota, through parent groups, one-onone support from experienced parents, and a Facebook group. ASN has
also offered retreats for adoptive families. Here we share one parent’s story to
show how these events have helped adoptive families in need.
N
In 2007, MayKao and Jason Fredericks heard about a sibling group of nine, ages
5 to 18, who had been abandoned at a shelter where the Fredericks volunteered. The couple volunteered to take the kids out for dinner and ended up
committing to caring for the kids in their home. Last fall, they finalized the
adoptions of the six youngest
children. They are honorary
parents to the older siblings,
and have five other children.
MayKao explains the transition: “I was a young mom
with three years of parenting
experience. I had to switch
overnight from reading
Mother Goose to helping
traumatized children deal with abandonment, drugs, gangs, depression, chronic
illness, and more.” By fall 2012 MayKao says, “I needed a retreat to rest and figure out my feelings and relationship as a mom to my kids. I had a deadbolt on
my heart, refusing to feel anything.” MayKao had been to adoption groups
before but those families didn’t understand what she was going through.
At an ASN retreat, MayKao felt an immediate difference: “All it took was
hearing the introductions of the moms on the first night. I didn't feel alone
anymore.... Being among moms who were in my complex parenting situation
made me feel like I could get through this too. I got great advice around the
campfire that I don't believe your ‘normal' mom would have comprehended.”
NACAC is proud to have helped MayKao and her family—and thousands of
other adoptive families and waiting children and youth. We thank our members, donors, and funders for helping us make a difference! B
Cris’tiana
Cris’tiana is a cheerful, bubbly 18-year-old who
loves to talk and make you laugh! Her generous
spirit shows as she often gives gifts to her friends
and foster family members. Favorite activities
include riding horses, listening to music (especially
Taylor Swift and other country musicians), and
doing arts and crafts. Other things that make her
happy are cheerleading, the Yankees, shopping, Twilight, Zach Efron, and horses,
dogs, and other animals. Cris’tiana’s all-time favorite food is spaghetti, and she’d
love a home where she could share this meal with a family. In a life skills program,
she really enjoys art and gym. At school, where she’s a senior, math is a favorite
subject, but she’s nervous about what life holds after graduation.
Cris’tiana forms strong connections with others, and she needs a forever family
that will help her stay in contact with her sister. She would do well with other
children in the family. To learn more, contact Ilona Frederick at Children
Awaiting Parents: 585-232-5110/888-835-8802 or [email protected] B
North American Council on Adoptable Children
Spring 2013 Adoptalk •
15
NONPROFIT ORG
US POSTAGE
PAID
TWIN CITIES MN
PERMIT NO. 4246
970 Raymond Avenue, Suite 106
St. Paul, MN 55114-1149
651-644-3036 • fax: 651-644-9848
[email protected] • www.nacac.org
Join Us at the NACAC Conference
Toronto, Ontario • August 7–10, 2013
“This was my first
NACAC conference. I
was inspired, motivated
and encouraged to do
more for children in
the system. The
information adds value
to my personal and
professional life!”
As the previous NACAC conference
attendees quoted here can attest, the
NACAC conference is an incredible
educational experience for professionals and parents touched by adoption.
The 2013 conference—co-sponsored
by the Adoption Council of Canada
and the Adoption Council of
Ontario—will offer learning and networking opportunities for child welfare professionals, foster and adoptive
parents, youth who have been in care
or were adopted, and other advocates.
Key features of the 2013 conference
include—
Y More than 80 workshops on almost
every adoption-related topic, de-
signed to meet the diverse needs and
levels of experience of all members of
the adoption community
Y Two all-day pre-conference sessions
on August 7:
• Dr. Daniel Hughes & Dr. Jonathan
Baylin—“Creating a Love to Last a
Lifetime: Understanding the Neuroscience of Attachment”
• Sue Badeau, Dr. Denise Goodman,
& Pat O’Brien—“Permanency
Matters: Tools to Find Families for
Older Children and Youth”
Pre-conference fees of $100 per
person are separate from regular
conference registration fees.
Y A Conference for Youth (ages
16–25) who want to learn more
about advocating for adoption and
permanency
Y A children’s program (ages 6–17)
with field trips, fun activities, and
educational sessions
Conference registration is open! Early
registration fees (received or postmarked by July 5) are $270 for mem-
bers and $320 for non-members.
Parent couples who attend together
receive a discount, as do current fulltime college and graduate students.
After July 5, full conference fees
increase by $55.
Registrants who pay to attend one of
Wednesday’s pre-conference sessions
and the full conference will receive a
$20 discount on the pre-conference
session registration.
Learn more at http://www.nacac.org/
conference/conference.html, where you
can download a registration booklet,
read descriptions of all sessions, and
register online. Or contact NACAC at
651-644-3036 or [email protected] to
request more information.
“I have learned so
much and enjoyed all
the classes and events.
In 23 years as a foster
parent, adoptive parent,
and 2,000+ hours of
training, this was the
BEST EVER.”