Pending Child Welfare Legislation Contains Landmark Tribal Provisions

On September 22, 2008 Congress passed The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (H.R. 6893). If signed into law by President Bush, this bill will create access to Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance program while maintaining tribal autonomy.

Under the legislation, Tribes will gain direct access to federal funds for foster care, adoption assistance, kinship guardianship placements and independent living. For each fiscal year beginning in 2009, $3 million has been set aside for technical assistance and for participating Tribes to create their own child welfare programs. There are also provisions for one-time startup grants for Tribes wishing to operate their own Title IV-E program.

The new bill would require Tribes to match funds if they enter into agreements with the federal government to perform services under Title IV-E, thereby requiring analysis by Tribes of the cost/benefit and long term economic feasibility of the programs. Officials with the National Indian Child Welfare Association helped structure the Tribal components of the bill, and leaders in both the Senate and the House focused on child welfare issues for Native American children throughout the legislative process.

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