According to national statistics, more than 400,000 children nationwide are in foster care, and of those, more than 124,000 are waiting for adoption. Over half of those waiting for adoption have been in foster care for two years or longer, and each year nearly 20,000 youth age out of foster care without a permanent home. The Trump Administration has pledged to take significant steps to improve and streamline America’s foster care and adoption systems, and recently, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) to do just that. The EO implements a three-pronged approach: improving partnerships, improving resources, and improving oversight.
The EO seeks to strengthen relationships between state agencies and public, private, faith-based, and community organizations by instructing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to expand public access to information regarding the child welfare system. This includes providing data to assist in the recruitment of community support, preserve sibling connections, and expand the number of homes for children and teens. The EO also increases access to resources for caregivers and youth by directing the Secretary to expand educational options, increase the availability of trauma-informed training, support guardianship, and enhance support for kinship care and youth exiting foster care. Lastly, it streamlines processes and systems and increases oversight over key statutory child welfare requirements. This aims to cut down on the bureaucratic barriers that lead to unnecessary removal and lack of permanency for children.
The EO augments the work of an initiative started by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) called the “ALL-IN” Foster Adoption Challenge. The Challenge seeks to place every waiting child and youth in foster care into a permanent home.
In response to the EO, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said, “President Trump’s executive order demonstrates how his administration has prioritized placing each of America’s foster kids with the loving, permanent family they deserve. Since the President took office, we have focused on promoting adoption unlike any previous administration, and we’ve begun to see results. The President’s executive order lays out bold reforms for our work with states, communities, and faith-based partners to build a brighter future for American kids who are in foster care or in crisis.”
ACF Assistant Secretary Lynn Johnson added, “Our number one goal is to help our children and youth by making improvements to our child welfare system, and I’m incredibly grateful to President Trump for taking this monumental action today. These strong actions support vulnerable children and youth nationwide by advancing measures to reduce child abuse and neglect, encouraging family preservation, and strengthening adoption and other forms of permanency for America’s kids.”
As the purpose of the EO stated, “Every child deserves a family. Our States and communities have both a legal obligation, and the privilege, to care for our Nation’s most vulnerable children.”