WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Kay Granger (Texas) and Brenda Lawrence (Mich.) along with Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) yesterday introduced the Vulnerable Children and Families Act. The measure would help more children living without families or in institutional care find permanent homes by enhancing U.S. diplomatic efforts around international child welfare and ensuring that intercountry adoption to the United States becomes a more viable and fully-developed option.
“The future of the world rests on the shoulders of today’s children. We owe it to them to do everything we can to make sure they grow up in safe and loving homes,” Granger said. “This legislation will make it easier for families looking at international adoption to provide a permanent home for some of the world’s most vulnerable children and help ensure they grow up to be productive adults.”
“Millions of children across the world are in need of a permanent, loving family,” Lawrence said. “There is a clear need for permanency in this country and abroad. This bill helps ensure that the child welfare systems in the United States and abroad are working efficiently and effectively to provide permanent and safe homes to all children.”
“Every child deserves a permanent, safe, loving home no matter where they are born,” Blunt said. “Unfortunately, there are millions of children across the world who are growing up without the security and stability that comes with family-based care. This bill will help connect more children in need of permanent homes with families in the United States and around the world that are eager to adopt.”
“As the co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption and a senator from Minnesota, a state with one of the highest rates of international adoption in the country, I have seen firsthand the power of adoption,” Klobuchar said. “We can and must do more to help countries abroad develop their own domestic adoption programs while also strengthening opportunities for international adoption. That’s why Senator Blunt and I introduced this bipartisan legislation to ensure that our government is working in partnership with other countries to help ensure that children grow up in safe and nurturing families.”
The United Nations Children’s Fund estimates that 13 million children across the globe have lost both parents, and as many as eight million children are living in institutional care. Despite the clear need for more permanent homes for these children, the number of international adoptions into the United States has decreased by 72 percent since 2004.
The legislation is supported by the National Council for Adoption, American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, Saddleback Church, Harvard Law School Child Advocacy Program, Bethany Christian Services, Nourished Hearts, Center for Adoption Policy, and Gladney Center for Adoption.
Blunt, Klobuchar, and Lawrence serve as co-chairs of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption.
The Vulnerable Children and Families Act:
· Ensures that international child welfare and efforts to provide permanent and safe homes for vulnerable children are a central part of international diplomacy and U.S. foreign policy within the State Department;
· Replaces the current U.S. Department of State Office of Children’s Issues with an Office of Vulnerable Children and Family Security. This office would build international capacity to implement effective child welfare systems, with particular focus on family preservation and reunification, domestic adoption, and intercountry adoption;
· Creates a new annual report to Congress on the technical assistance being provided to foreign countries to promote family-based permanence under the act; and
· Strengthens coordination between the Office of Vulnerable Children and Family Security and the Special Advisor for Children in Adversity at the United States Agency for International Development, and ensures the two offices are working together to implement the objectives outlined in the 2012 Action Plan on Children in Adversity.