President Clinton on Friday offered a plan to double the number of children adopted out of foster care, proposing legal changes to speed up the process and bonuses to states that increase adoption of these children.
The plan fulfills a pledge offered by the president two months ago to reduce the long periods during which children languish in foster care, an issue that has recently gained widespread support among both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill. With similar proposals emerging from Congress and the White House, political leaders say they are confident they can enact a measure revamping the nation’s child protection system with little of the rancor that accompanied the welfare debate last year.
“We have to move quickly to put this plan into action, so that no child is deprived of a safe and permanent home for even one day longer than necessary,” the president said at a White House event, where he and Hillary Clinton were surrounded by children who had already been adopted and others waiting to be.
Nationally, about 450,000 children are in the foster care system because of parental abuse or neglect.
About one-fourth of those were on track to be adopted, but just 20,000 were adopted and another 7,000 were placed in other permanent homes, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Child advocates and others have complained for years that the process is unnecessarily slowed by bureaucratic legal hurdles that must be passed before children can be adopted.