Today, Governor Bobby Jindal signed legislation that promotes and encourages the adoption of foster children in Louisiana during a bill signing ceremony with families in Baton Rouge. This bill is part of the Governor's 2013 Legislative Package.
SB 220--authored by Senators Mike Walsworth and Rick Ward--codifies existing regulations to provide for assistance with educational needs for adopted children, grant subsidies to assist families with adoption costs and expedite the judicial process in adoption proceedings.
Governor Jindal said, "Our children hold the key to Louisiana's future, and it is crucial that we provide our kids with love, care and stability when they're growing up. Strong, healthy families are the bedrock of our culture, and by encouraging and assisting with adoption efforts for families across Louisiana, we'll go a long way toward ensuring that our next generation is provided with the stable and loving environment they need."
Under the bill, kids will be allowed to stay in the school they are currently attending when adopted for the duration of the school year, and they will be granted the opportunity to enroll in a new school in their new home district the following year.
In addition, the state will subsidize the adoption of children with special needs--including maintenance costs, medical and surgical costs and other costs associated with the care, training or educational needs of that child. And, wait times for finalizing adoptions will be shortened by applying waiting periods retroactively, waiving home study periods in certain instances and expediting the judicial process for prospective parents who have been previously approved for foster care.
Louisiana Family Forum President Gene Mills said, "Louisiana Family Forum places a premium on family. Today, 487 adoption-ready children in the Louisiana Foster Care system have reason to believe in a brighter tomorrow. Governor Jindal and the Louisiana Legislature have just brought us, in the Louisiana Has Faith in Families Act, one step closer to uniting these children to a forever family. As the faith community of this state learns of these little ones, ordinary moms and dads will step forward, embrace a child, give them a new name, provide a brighter future and finally bring them home."
Senator Walsworth said, "We've streamlined the adoption process and offered sensible new incentives which will make it easier to place children in permanent homes. This legislation may not receive the publicity that some of the other issues before the Legislature do, but I guarantee it will be the most important bill for many families in Louisiana for many years to come."
Senator Ward said, "This legislation makes the adoption process even more attractive to those families who have a heart for building permanent homes for adopted children. My hope is that someday Louisiana has a waiting list for parents seeking adoption from the state and that every child who wants a home will find the security of a permanent, loving family."