When children are placed in out-of-home care (also called foster care), it is important that child welfare agencies find safe, permanent homes for them as quickly as possible.
In many circumstances, children can be reunited with their families, but in some cases, children find homes with relatives
or adoptive families.
Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs) have consistently found that many child welfare systems need to improve their adoption work, as evidenced by their difficulty in achieving substantial conformity on permanency outcomes.
These shortcomings include failure to make concerted efforts towards timely permanency for adoption and preserving family connections; inadequate engagement of parents, children and youth in case planning; limited and ineffective service provision; insufficient frequency and duration of child visitations/parenting time; punitive uses of visitation/parenting time; delays in establishing the goal of adoption; a lack of meaningful concurrent planning; and lengthy appeal processes for contested termination of parental rights.
These permanency outcomes relate to basic social work, legal, and judicial practices that impact adoption outcomes and also have effects on the safety and well-being of children in care.
The purpose of this funding opportunity is to award up to five 5-year cooperative agreements for the development, implementation, and evaluation of strategies that focus on better adoption outcomes by improving basic social work, legal, and judicial practice in order to eliminate systemic barriers to:
adoption; preventing entry into foster care; and other forms of permanency.
Due to the intersection of permanency, safety, and well-being, an effective system reform effort focused on improving adoption outcomes by improving concurrent planning and reducing time to permanency will also require attention to safety and well-being outcomes.
Therefore, through these grant awards, the Children’s Bureau (CB) aims to support states with resources to implement and sustain child welfare system improvement efforts, including technical assistance support, in order to assist grantees in strengthening outcomes related to permanency, safety, and well-being.
Applicants are required to use CFSR findings, Program Improvement Plans (PIPs), Child and Family Services Plans, Title IV-E Foster Care Eligibility Review, Annual Progress and Services Reports, and Court Improvement Program (CIP) Plans and CIP Self-Assessments to identify barriers, challenges, and potential solutions to:
supporting placement of children in kinship care arrangements, preadoptive, or adoptive homes; permanency planning and achievement; ensuring child safety; enhanced engagement with and service delivery to children and families, including fathers; enhancing case planning; and/or maintaining family relationships and connections.
During the project period, grantees will address these barriers and challenges through the development, implementation, and evaluation of intervention strategies that focus on improving basic child welfare practice, that help ensure family-focused approaches, meaningful engagement, high quality legal representation, and CFSR systemic factors.
Applicants will be required to partner with the Administrative Office of the Courts, CIP, local courts, and other systems that are involved with state or county-level child welfare initiatives and must demonstrate buy-in from appropriate leadership.