17 September 2009

Tennessee Receives Incentive Funding From HHS To Improve Programs For Children In State Custody

This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded $35 million in incentive awards to states that have increased the number of children adopted from foster care. Tennessee is one of 38 states receiving recognition and a financial award from HHS for improving policies and programs for maltreated children.

The Adoption Incentives plan was developed in conjunction with the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. The initial plan rewarded states for moving children from state custody to permanent adoptive homes. Under the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, incentives were increased for moving children from foster care into adoptive households. The Act also mandates the use of consistent and comparable data on foster care and adoption.

This is positive news for our community, where 925 children were in state care as of June 30, 2007. Approximately one in five of these kids were preschoolers - the time in which the most rapid cognitive, social and emotional growth takes place. It is imperative that these susceptible infants and toddlers have access to the resources that promote healthy development- including a loving, consistent and established family. We applaud Tennessee for earning these incentive funds and look forward to their continued success in achieving permanent placement for these children into attentive and caring homes.

According to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, “Adopting a child from foster care is a wonderful way to enrich any family’s life…We congratulate the states that performed so well this year and we thank the parents who are providing loving and permanent homes” (Reuters, 2009, p.1).

A complete listing of each state’s adoption incentive award amount can be found at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/news/press/2009/fy09_adoption_incentive_awards.htm.

Policy suggestions to support young children and their adoptive families (Zero To Three, 2009):

- Provide continual post-permanency supports for adoptive families after permanency has been established. Infants and toddlers who depart foster care for a permanent adoptive home may continue to have developmental and mental health needs. For these placements to be successful, enduring emotional, financial and logistical services should be readily available.

- Guarantee that court administrators are informed about child growth and development and utilize their education to ensure stability and security. In order to accomplish their leadership and governing roles in cases involving very young children, court authorities should be aware of current scientific advances and possess the ability to apply that comprehension in their legalistic decision-making.

For more information of the well-being of children in Memphis and Shelby County, please visit The Urban Child Institute website at http://www.theurbanchildinstitute.org/Home.


Cohen, J. (2009). Securing a bright future: Infants and toddlers in foster care. Washington, DC:
Zero To Three Policy Center.

HHS awards $35 million to states for increasing adoptions. (2009, September 14). Reuters:
Business Wire 2009. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/HHS-Awards-35-Million-to-bw-1239344910.html?x=0&.v=1

TN Department of Children’s Services. Annual Report FY 2009. Nashville, TN: Author.

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