THE WHITE HOUSE AT WORK
Tuesday, November 24, 1998
INCREASING ADOPTION OPPORTUNITIES, BRINGING FAMILIES TOGETHER
We sometimes speak of the comforts of home as the 'small blessings'; but, when you look in the eyes of these grateful children and their adoptive families, we remember that there are few greater blessings. I would like to encourage more families to follow the example of those who join us here today --to open their arms, and their hearts, to children who need loving homes.
President Bill Clinton
November 24, 1998
Today, President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton will host a ceremony at the White House in honor of National Adoption Month and 24 new adoptive families in the District of Columbia. The President will issue a new directive to the Department of Health and Human Services to expand the use of the Internet as a tool to find homes for children waiting to be adopted from foster care.
Using The Internet To Meet The President's Goals For Adoption. In 1996, President Clinton set a goal of doubling, by the year 2002, adoptions and other permanent placements from the public child welfare system. Since then, adoptions have increased; from 1996 to 1997 alone, adoptions increased by over 10 percent, from 28,000 to 31,000. Today, the President is directing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop a plan to expand the use of the Internet to share information about children who are legally free for adoption in order to shorten the time needed to find them adoptive families. HHS estimates that approximately 100,000 children in our nation's foster care system cannot return to their birth families and need families to adopt them. An effective national registry will help to break down geographic barriers to adoption and assist in meeting the President's adoption goal. HHS Secretary Donna Shalala will report to the President within 60 days on a plan to work with the states and other leaders to carry out this effort.
A Solid Record Of Achievement. Today's announcement builds on a deep commitment by the President, the First Lady, and the Administration to facilitate adoptions and improve the child welfare system:
- Achieving Landmark Legislative Reform. In 1997, the President signed the Adoption and Safe Families Act, reforming our nation's child welfare system and making it clear that the health and safety of children must be the paramount concern of state child welfare services;
- Making Adoption Affordable for Families. In 1996, President Clinton signed into law the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996, which provides a $5,000 tax credit to families adopting children, and a $6,000 tax credit for families adopting children with special needs;
- Giving States Flexibility and Support. To test innovative strategies to improve state child welfare systems, the Clinton Administration has granted waivers to 18 states, giving them more flexibility in tailoring services to meet the needs of children and families. In 1993, the Clinton Administration enacted and secured federal funding for the Family Preservation and Support Program to help states, local governments, and service providers develop effective programs to serve children and families at risk and to prevent children from entering foster care in the first place;
- Breaking Down Racial and Ethnic Barriers to Adoption. New inter-ethnic adoption provisions, passed as a part of the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996, ensure that the adoption process is free from discrimination and delays on the basis of race, culture and ethnicity by strengthening the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act which the President signed in 1994;
- Providing Support for Child Protection and Adoption. In 1993, President Clinton signed into law the Family and Medical Leave Act, enabling parents to take time off to adopt a child without losing their jobs or health insurance.