Today, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) introduced bipartisan legislation that seeks to improve recruitment, retention and support for foster parents by fixing the feedback process and bolstering data collection. The proposal comes as most states, including Iowa, face a shortage of qualified foster parents – an issue that is only expected to worsen as child welfare agencies look to rely less on congregate care and more on family settings.
“The child welfare system relies on trained, qualified foster parents stepping up to care for children in need. But too often, the system fails to support these families. Our bipartisan legislation works to ensure foster parents are supported and listened to. Additionally, it requires states to use data to make recruitment efforts more targeted and effective. By making these necessary improvements, we can help more foster youth experience stable, loving placements and eventually have permanency. I appreciate Senator Hassan for joining me on this important effort to support foster youth and parents,” Grassley said.
“Foster parents open their home to children, taking on immense responsibility during what can often be a very difficult time for a child. It is essential that their feedback, and the feedback of individuals who have previously been in the foster care system, is incorporated into foster care programs so that states can build a stronger foster family recruitment system,” Hassan said. “This bipartisan bill will take commonsense steps to strengthen the foster care program, and I am glad to partner with Senator Grassley on this important and urgent issue.”
Grassley and Hassan’s bill, the Data-Driven Foster Parent Recruitment and Retention Act, is supported by 20 state organizations and several national organizations, including the National Foster Parent Association, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Voice for Adoption, Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Children’s Home Society of America and The Family Focused Treatment Association.
“Many years of experience tell us that the important work of recruiting foster families requires agencies to utilize effective, data-driven approaches. The Data-Driven Foster Parent Recruitment and Retention Act of 2022 offers much-needed improvements to federal policy by providing clear guidance to help child welfare agencies plan and implement best practices in foster parent recruitment and retention,” the organizations said in a joint support letter to Grassley and Hassan.
The legislation would update the Title IV-B Diligent Recruitment Plan requirements to make them more robust and require states to use a data-driven approach. Additionally, it would call for states to provide more opportunity for input from foster parents through foster parent advisory boards when making these plans.
Specifically, the Data-Driven Foster Parent Recruitment and Retention Act would:
Create a new “family partnership plan” requirement that describes how states will be identifying, recruiting, screening, supporting and retaining foster families by:
Requiring consultation with foster parents and kinship parents, as well as youth and service providers;
Requiring states to describe plans to use data to establish goals, assess needs and measure progress; and
Describing how the state plans to stand up and support ongoing family advisory boards to improve retention of foster and adoptive families.
Require states to collect and report on the foster family capacity and congregate care utilization, as well as the demographics and characteristics of foster families. This data collection would also include a summary of feedback from foster parents on licensing, support, training and reasons why they have stopped taking placements if applicable.
Require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to produce an annual report of states’ data in order to identify national trends, similar to the data collection and annual report on children in foster care.
Full text of the bill is available HERE.