Thursday, September 16, 2010

Monetary Incentives for Family Dissolution

The Milwaukee Sentinel Business Section reports: State awarded $276,000 for increasing adoptions
Wisconsin has received $276,348 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for increasing the number of children adopted from foster care.

States received $4,000 for every child adopted above the total in their best year, plus $8,000 for every child age 9 and older and $4,000 for every special needs child adopted above a baseline year.
The states given the adoption incentive awards this year completed more adoptions in 2009 than in the 2007 baseline year.

A total of 38 states and Puerto Rico received incentive awards Wednesday.

"All children deserve loving, safe and permanent homes," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. "It is gratifying that most states continue to excel in promoting the adoption of children from foster care. I sincerely thank every adoptive family in the state Wisconsin that has welcomed a child into their home."

A list of each state's adoption incentive awards can be found here. A total of 38 states received awards; the program distributed a total of $39 million.

Among the highest paid states:
North Carolina - $1M
Oklahomoa $1.2M
Alabama $1.4M
Arkansas - $1.3M
Pennsylvania $2.175M
Michigan $ 3.5M

Florida - also known for some very bad adoption practices - received $5,718,271

And the grand prize winner: TEXAS, which received $7,468,475

Even more horrific is the (reported in Salt Lake tribune) fact that UTAH - notoriously embattled in numerous cases of illegally taking children from other states in cases in which their fathers want them and did not consent to any adoption - received $432,00.

The number of children adopted out of foster care in Utah has steadily increased since 2005, according to DCFS numbers. Though the total number of children in the foster care system is also increasing, the number of children adopted as a percentage of the total also increased last year to 18 percent, according to a Tribune analysis of DCFS numbers.

Note that one red cent is awarded to anyone for PREVENTING children being removed by providing services to families in crisis. 

Like police quotas, certainly these monetary incentives help some children.  But it also encourages rampant and far too quick permanent solutions to temporary problems with families and denies the assistance of extended family members by only offering such incentives when a stranger adoption occurs.

No funds are even mandated to locate extended family members as a resource for these children before seeking to adopt them out to unrelated strangers. The financial effect would be the same to the state which would save the cost of foster care payments, but it would provide - already at-risk - with continuity and less of feelings of rejection and abandonment that is known to be felt by adoptees.  

How can we call ourselves a civilized nation when we expend government funds to destroy families and children instead of helping them?

In-home programs that provide parenting, anger management and substance abuse recovery have been found to be effective and less expensive than traditional foster care, but they are seldom used. Family Finding finds double digit family members able and willing to provide assistance to their blood related kin in foster care, but it is seldom used and when it is it is for adolescents aging out of foster care - not for those first going into the system. 

Pumping dollars into a known BAD system may feel good but is is bad quick "fix."

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