WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) have announced bipartisan legislation to improve the placement of children with families in the foster care and adoption system in the United States.

The National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Act would establish a national standard for home studies, which provide child welfare agencies with the information they need to determine the best placement for a child, and create a database to achieve greater uniformity and transparency to ensure that the needs of children are put first no matter where they live. This legislation would amend the Adoption Opportunities Program, which funds projects that help make the adoption process easier for families.

“Every year, there are thousands of children who aren’t placed with a loving and stable foster or adoptive family because of our outdated and overburdened child welfare system,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Act would update our child welfare system by creating a national standard that will better place children with families that will take care of them and protect them. Congress should be doing more to help children in the child welfare system reach their full potential. I am proud to partner with Senator Lankford and Representatives Huffman and Bacon on this bipartisan bill, and I urge all of my colleagues to join us in working to pass it as quickly as possible.”

Specifically, this legislation would amend the Adoption Opportunities Program by doing the following:

· Creating a research-based National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study assessment standard. States who implement the national assessment standard would be eligible for funding through a demonstration program.

· Developing and establishing a secure National Home Study Database containing information related to completed home studies in order to allow child welfare agencies across the country to more efficiently and effectively match foster and adoptive children to prospective families.

· Instituting regular independent evaluations of the assessment standard and database.

The National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Act is sponsored in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) and Don Bacon (R-Nebraska). This bill is supported by Helpusadopt.org, Consortium for Children, Foundation for Sustainable Families, Adoption Rhode Island, You Gotta Believe--Adopting Older Kids And Youth, National Council for Adoption, Bethany Christian Services, Treehouse Foundation, and Adoption Advocacy Center Fund.