Jul 15 2016
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), co-chairs of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, 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.
“Every child deserves the opportunity to grow up in a safe, loving home regardless of where they are born,” Blunt said. “Sadly, millions of children living without families throughout the world are denied that opportunity, leaving them at greater risk than children living in family-based care. There are many families in the United States and around the world that are fighting for the chance to welcome a child into their homes. This bill aims to provide more children in need with the permanent care and stability that will help them grow into healthy, productive adults.”
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.
Klobuchar added, “As Hennepin County attorney and as the Senate co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, and from a state with a strong tradition of adoption, I know the power of adoption. We can and must do more to provide vulnerable children, especially those who have been in institutional care, with the opportunity to be adopted into safe and nurturing homes. This bipartisan legislation will strengthen our relationships with nations across the world, while also making a difference in the lives of many families.”
Rep. Kay Granger (Texas) plans to introduce the House companion bill.
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.
- Requires that data on children living without families or in institutional settings be included in the Department of State’s annual human rights report.
- Creates a new annual report to Congress on the technical assistance being provided to foreign countries to promote family-based permanence under the Act.
- 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.
The legislation is supported by the National Council for Adoption, American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, Christian Alliance for Orphans, Saddleback Church, Harvard Law School Child Advocacy Program, Bethany Christian Services, Nourished Hearts, Center for Adoption Policy, and Gladney Center for Adoption.