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Landrieu Secures Key Provisions for Adoption, Vulnerable Youth in Labor-HHS Spending Bill

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., Co-Chair of both the Congressional Coalition on Adoption and the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, today announced that she has secured key provisions to improve adoption and support vulnerable youth in the Fiscal Year 2013 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) appropriations bill.

These provisions include language to help ensure that Adoption Opportunities Act funds are used for their intended goal of improving adoption outcomes. Sen. Landrieu's language also encourages HHS to focus new federal grants on strengthening post-adoption services and recruiting adoptive parents for minority children, older child adoption and children with special needs. At Sen. Landrieu's request, the bill also includes robust funding for programs such as Child Care Development Block Grants (CCDBG) and the Adoption Incentives program. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved this legislation today.

"I believe that every child deserves a loving, safe and permanent home and that promoting adoption must be a national focus. This is the intent of the Adoption Opportunities Act -- to eliminate barriers to adoption to help find permanent families for children who need them, particularly children with special needs. However in recent years, the focus of Adoption Opportunity funds has drifted from the program's legislative mandate, and funds have been spent too broadly. We must refocus these funds to their original intent so we can help connect children in need with a forever family to call their own," Sen. Landrieu said.

Sen. Landrieu also included language to encourage HHS to evaluate and support intergenerational communities where older adults provide support to vulnerable families and youth, who in turn, promote the well-being of the elders as they age. These intergenerational approaches -- particularly those that are place-based and include supportive housing ¬- have shown great promise helping at-risk youth and families. These models have also demonstrated potential for reducing demand for social services among participating seniors, who benefit from increased civic and social engagement.

In addition, at Sen. Landrieu's request the legislation includes:

$39.3 million for the Adoption Incentives program, including $1.4 million for the initiative in Louisiana: This program encourages states to improve adoption outcomes by providing bonus funds to states that increase the number of adoptions of children in the public foster care system, children with special needs under age nine, as well as children nine and older. Older children now constitute 42 percent of children waiting for adoptive families, but constitute only 26 percent of adoptions.

$2.4 billion for the Child Care and Development Fund: This program is the principle source of federal funding for childcare subsidies for low-income families. The funds are allocated to states, according to a formula, and are used to subsidize childcare for low-income working families with children under age 13. Louisiana would receive $42.5 million in CCDF funding for FY13 should this legislation pass.

$63.1 million for the Promoting Safe and Stable Families program: These funds are made available to states territories and tribes for the following categories of child and family services: family support, family preservation, time-limited family reunification, and adoption promotion and support. Louisiana would receive $1.2 million in PSSF funding for FY13 should this legislation pass.

$93.6 million for Child Abuse Programs (CAP): Louisiana would receive $830,000 in funding for FY13 should this legislation pass. These programs include the following:

* Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA): These formula grants improve state child protective service systems. Includes initial allocation of $50,000 per state with additional funds distributed in proportion to a state's population of children under age 18.

* Child Abuse Discretionary Activities: These competitive grants support research and demonstration projects to expand the evidence base for child welfare programs. The program funds research on the causes, prevention, identification and treatment of child abuse and neglect, and investigative, administrative and judicial procedures.

* Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention: These formula grants are provided to a State lead agency to disburse funds for community child abuse and neglect prevention activities. Voluntary home visiting programs are a core local service, as are programs that focus on prevention services to families that include children or parents with disabilities.

$17.9 million for Education and Prevention Grants to Reduce Sexual Abuse of Runaway Homeless and Street Youth (EPG): These competitive grants fund public and private organizations for services to runaways, homeless youth, and street youth, who have been subjected to or are at risk of sexual abuse, prostitution, or sexual exploitation. Youth receive provisions for their basic needs, including food, clothing, hygiene or first aid packages, information about services and safe places, and encouragement to enter them and build positive relationships. Louisiana received $129,000 in EPG grants in FY2011.

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