7.30.2008

Arkansas Incentive Reauthorization Letter



July 18, 2008

The Honorable Blanche Lincoln
United States Senate
Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 355
Washington, DC 20510

Attention: Tony McClain

Dear Senator Lincoln:

On behalf of the 3,729 children living in Arkansas’s foster care system, we thank you for your support of the Improved Adoption Incentives Program and Relative Guardianship Support Act of 2008 (S. 3038) and the Kinship Caregiver Support Act (S. 661). As one of the co-sponsors of the Adoption Incentive Program Reauthorization Act in 2003, you know the vital role this legislation has played in helping children leave foster care for good. From inception in 1998 through 2006, this bipartisan program has helped almost 450,000 children nationwide leave foster care for safe, permanent adoptive families. Your continued leadership on this issue as a member of the Senate Finance Committee is especially crucial to ensuring the reauthorization of this important program, which is part of Title IV of the Social Security Act and within the jurisdiction of the Senate Finance Committee.

Since 1998, the state of Arkansas has received approximately $1,796,000 ­in adoption incentive funds through this program. These funds are critical to Arkansas’s efforts to increase the number of adoptions from foster care. Between 1998 and 2006, Arkansas successfully finalized adoptions for approximately 2,987 foster children. As you know, the Adoption Incentive Program will expire on September 30, 2008 unless Congress takes action.

In late June, the House acted swiftly and unanimously to pass the Fostering Connections to Success Act (H.R. 6307), introduced and championed by Representatives Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Jerry Weller (R-IL) the Chairman and Ranking member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support. We urge the Senate to move forward on timely passage of comparable legislation this summer.

The time to act on behalf of children and youth in foster care is now. Thank you again for your support of the Improved Adoption Incentives Program and Relative Guardianship Support Act of 2008. We hope you will encourage your colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee to act to reauthorize the Adoption Incentives Program before it expires. In
Arkansas, 481 children are still waiting in foster care for safe, adoptive families. They need the Adoption Incentive Program to be re-authorized.

Sincerely,


Rich Huddleston, Executive Director
Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families

Judge Joyce Warren, Chair
Supreme Court Ad Hoc Committee on Foster Care and Adoption

Judge Gary Arnold and Judge Ken Coker, Chairs
Juvenile Judges Committee of Judicial Council

Pat Page, Director
Arkansas Department of Children and Family Services

Connie Hickman Tanner, Director of Juvenile Division Courts
Arkansas Administrative Office of the Courts

Julian Holloway, Director
Arkansas State CASA Association

Max Snowden, Executive Director
Arkansas Commission on Child Abuse, Rape, and Domestic Violence

Consevella James, Executive Director
Treatment Homes, Inc.

Penny McGlawn
Foster Parent, White County

Dean Burbank
Foster and Adoptive Parent, Saline County

Steve Thacker, Chair
Garland County Adoption Coalition

Cynthia Ramey, Co-Chair
Jefferson County Adoption Coalition

Dawn Reed, Chair
Northwest Arkansas Adoption Coalition

Sylvia Richards and Sharon Stallings, Co-Chairs
Northeast Arkansas Adoption Coalition

Paula Higgins and Clay Warnock, Co-Chairs
River Valley Adoption Coalition

Tennille Stanger and Christine Erwin, Co-Chairs
Pulaski County Adoption Coalition

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