Though foster care is meant to be a temporary means to keep children safe from neglect and abuse, too often, children languish in the system, denied the safety and security of a loving family and a permanent home. Senator Grassley has long worked on policy solutions and oversight of the child welfare system to ensure better outcomes for children.

Senator Grassley is the co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, which he founded in 2008 with former Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana in order to serve as a means to connect senators with researchers, advocates, and those who have lived experience with the foster care system. The special focus of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth has been to hear directly from older youth and foster care alumni about their experiences and ideas on how to improve programs designed to help families and children in need.

Each year since 2014, Senator Grassley has authored and ensured Senate passage of a resolution marking May as National Foster Care Month, which recognizes the strength of children in foster care and all who work to improve their circumstances.

In 1997, he worked to advance the Adoption and Safe Families Act, which drastically increased the numbers of adoptions from foster care across the country.

In 2006, as Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Senator Grassley developed and shepherded to final passage the Child and Family Services Improvement Act of 2006, which provided grants to states to help families struggling with substance abuse as well as increased caseworker visits for children in foster care.

In 2008, Senator Grassley was a leader in the bipartisan effort to pass the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act. This new law provided additional federal incentives for states to move children from foster care to adoptive homes, and included Senator Grassley's legislation to make it easier for foster children to be permanently cared for by their own relatives and to stay in their own home communities. The law also created a federally supported extended foster care option to help kids who would otherwise be required to leave foster care when turning 18.

In 2011, Senator Grassley worked to reauthorize grants that support families who struggle with substance abuse and that improve the safety, permanency and well-being of children

In 2018, Senator Grassley supported the passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act, which overhauls the child welfare system and allows states to use federal money to provide prevention services to families at risk of entering the child welfare system.