Each State administers its own foster care system to address the needs of at-risk children and families. States must, however, abide by specific Federal rules and guidelines in order to qualify for Federal funding available for State foster care programs.
Titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act authorized the largest federally funded programs that provide funding for State and Tribal child welfare, foster care, and adoption programs. These programs are managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and consist of:
- The title IV-B Child Welfare Services and Promoting Safe and Stable Families programs;
- The title IV-E Foster Care Program;
- The title IV-E Adoption Assistance Program; and
- The title IV-E Chafee Foster Care Independence Program.
In order to assist you in understanding the Federal legislation that has shaped the US Foster Care system, given below is a chronological summary of pertinent acts of the legislation. These acts has had a significant impact on the delivery of child welfare services related to foster care in the US:
1. 1935 Child Welfare Services Program, title IV-B of the Social Security Act – provided Federal grants to States for preventive and protective services and foster care payments.
2. 1961 The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 – provided foster care maintenance payments under the Aid to Dependent Children Program, title IV-A of the Social Security Act.
3. 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act (IcWa) of 1978 – established criteria for the placement of Indian children in foster and adoptive homes to prevent the breakup of Indian families.
4. 1980 Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 – amended titles IV-B and XX of the Social Security Act to provide: Assistance to adoption agencies; Improved the program of foster care assistance for needy and dependent children; and enhanced the child welfare, social services, and provided aid to families with dependent children.
5. 1994 Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 – on one hand, this act made it necessary for States to create strategies for the recruitment of foster and adoptive families that reflect the ethnic and racial diversity of children in the State. According to this act the States were required to authorize an agency or entity to consider the cultural, ethnic, or racial profile of a child and the potential of an adoptive or foster parent to satisfy the needs of a child with that profile when making a placement. On the other hand, it also forbade State agencies and other entities from delaying, denying, or otherwise discriminating when making a foster care or adoption placement determination on the basis of the parent or child’s race, color, or national origin.
6. 1996 the Interethnic Provisions of 1996 – created the title IV-E State Plan, which forbid States and other entities involved in foster care or adoption from denying any individual the chance to become a foster or adoptive parent. It also forbade delaying or denying a child’s foster care or adoptive placement based on the race, color, or national origin of the parent or the child.
7. 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 – promoted the adoption of children in foster care
8. 1999 Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 – amended part E of title IV of the Social Security Act to provide more funding and greater flexibility in implementing programs created to help children who are aging out of foster care.
9. 2001 Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendments of 2001 – provided new authority to support programs for mentoring children of incarcerated parents, and amended the Foster Care Independent Living program under title IV-E to include educational and training vouchers for young people aging out of foster care.
10. 2005 Fair Access Foster Care Act of 2005 – amended part E of title IV of the Social Security Act to permit foster care maintenance payments to be paid on behalf of eligible children through a nonprofit or for-profit child-placement or child care agency.
11. 2006 Safe and Timely Interstate Placement of Foster Children Act of 2006 – enhanced protections for children and holds States responsible for the safe and timely placement of children across State lines
12. 2006 Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 – exempted all foster children who receive assistance under title IV-B or IV-E Social Security Act from the Medicaid citizenship documentation requirements.
13. 2008 the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions act of 2008 – enhanced support for relative caregivers, provides access to title IV-E funds for Tribal foster care and adoption and improves incentives for adoption.
14. 2011 Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act – Made it necessary for each State to plan for healthcare services for any child in foster care and to include an outline of that plan. It increased the required number of monthly caseworker visits to children in foster care during a fiscal year. It also made it necessary for the State title IV-B/IV-E agencies to meet the educational stability case plan. It required each child age 16 and older in foster care to be given a free copy of any consumer credit report every year and be offered help in understanding the credit report and addressing any inconsistencies.
15. 2014 Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act – amended the Social Security Act to prevent and address the sex trafficking of children in foster care, requires the development of reasonable and prudent parent standard to allow a child in foster care to take part in age-appropriate activities, expands and increases adoption incentives.