With U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley
Q: What is National Adoption Month?
A: Nearly four decades ago, President Ronald Reagan launched a national awareness campaign to reaffirm the central importance of family in American society and bring attention to tens of thousands of children in foster care who yearn for the permanency and stability of a forever home. In 1984, he signed a Senate Joint Resolution to designate one week in November as “National Adoption Week” to celebrate Americans who have found their forever families through adoption and encourage others to consider opening their hearts and homes to the joys and rewards parenthood can bring. A decade later, President Bill Clinton expanded the effort to include the entire month of November to help bring more attention to the growing need of forever families for kids awaiting adoption.
During this season of Thanksgiving, Americans across the country gather to count their blessings and give thanks for the bountiful food and blessings of family. For generations, families in communities across the country have anchored the social fabric of our society. Strong families are the foothold to a strong future for America. Without a doubt, the support structure among moms, dads, siblings and grandparents give children the stability, certainty and resiliency to find happiness and achieve their full potential to become productive contributors in society. What’s more, the lasting permanency of a forever family helps children pass on those ties for generations to come. Families turn a household into a home. Here in Iowa, nearly 6,000 children are in foster care. Iowans who are interested in learning more about adopting a child or becoming foster parents should contact Four Oaks or Lutheran Services in Iowa.
Q: How are you working to support foster youth recover and thrive post-pandemic?
A: Americans of every generation have coped with hardship and loss throughout the uncertainty caused by COVID-19. The challenges created difficulties for households across all walks of life. Imagine navigating the unknown, including school and workplace closures, without the emotional and financial support of parents. In my work as co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, we strive to inform public policymaking with direct feedback from teens and young adults to learn what resources they need to succeed and thrive, especially for those who “age out” of foster care without family reunification or adoption into a forever family. The pandemic highlighted an urgent need for assistance; I helped steer some flexibility and a financial lifeline to help older foster youth stay on their feet and keep a roof over their heads. In October, I introduced bipartisan legislation with Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the caucus co-chair from Michigan, to extend some of the pandemic assistance for one more year. Our bill would extend the additional supports included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act enacted last December, which allowed young adults to receive help until age 27. This temporary measure expired on Sept. 30, 2021. Inflation is eating into savings and wages, and young adults who aged out of foster care are hard-pressed to afford groceries, gas, rent and tuition. That makes this extension for young adults transitioning to independent living even more critical.
As co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, I’ll continue championing efforts to strengthen the child welfare system to help ensure children who are placed in foster care are not left in limbo indefinitely. In the past, I’ve led efforts to promote kids being cared for by family members instead of being placed in foster care, and to provide improved services for both kids and their families. If family reunification is not achievable, this vulnerable population of America’s next generation deserves every opportunity that a loving adoption with a forever family can bring.
November is National Adoption Month. As former chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Grassley was instrumental to make permanent the federal adoption tax credit and is a leading champion to improve services and outcomes for the nation’s 400,000 youth in foster care.