A Pennsylvania lawmaker is pushing legislation aimed at allowing more relatives to adopt children who are taken into state custody.
Frustrated family members in Arkansas let their feelings be heard. "I'm perfectly able, perfectly capable, of taking care of my grandchildren."
They say State Child Welfare Officials are blocking them from adopting children from relatives. Alabama Congresswoman, Terri Sewell, says the roadblocks are a nationwide problem. "We want to encourage more relatives and family members to be engaged with the lives of our foster care," says Sewell.
Sewell blames outdated licensing requirements in many states. "Some that have restrictions on the number of bedrooms that have to be in a house," explains Sewell.
According to advocacy organizations, age and gender requirements also present obstacles for relatives seeking to adopt.
They say relatives who live across state lines also face hurdles. Representative Lloyd Smucker (R) Pennsylvania, says, "federal policy should make it easier for children to be placed with family members".
Congressman Smucker and Representative Sewell are sponsoring legislation that passed the House last month. It would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to produce new adoption guidelines for states. The idea is to give child welfare workers more flexibility to place children with relatives by exempting some non-safety adoption rules.
Representative Smucker says, "research shows that placement with relatives is better for the child."
That's likely why a slew of child health organizations are supporting the legislation which is now being considered by the US Senate.
--Drew Petrimoulx, Washington
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