Foster Care: Increases in Adoption Rates Page: 1 of 6
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G A O General Accounting Office
Washington, D.C. 20548
Health, Education, and
Human Services Division
April 20, 1999
The Honorable Nancy L. Johnson
Chairman, Subcommittee on Human Resources
Committee on Ways and Means
House of Representatives
Foster Care: Increases in Adoption Rates
Dear Madam Chairman:
The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA) authorizes incentive payments to states
for increasing the number of foster child adoptions in fiscal years 1998 through 2002. States
may receive up to $6,000 for each finalized adoption of a foster child over a state's base
number for a fiscal year. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is
responsible for determining the base number of foster child adoptions that a state must
exceed in order to be eligible for incentive payments. To determine each state's base
numbers for fiscal year 1998, HHS averaged that state's number of finalized foster care
adoptions for federal fiscal years 1995, 1996, and 1997. Recently, the North American Council
on Adoptable Children (NACAC) reported that, of the 42 states that provided estimates for
the survey, at least 36,000 foster children were adopted in fiscal year 1998, which represents
an increase of 7,859 over the base numbers.'
This letter responds to your request that we determine the source of information states used
to derive both the fiscal year 1998 and the base numbers of finalized foster care adoptions,
and to identify factors that contributed to the increases in foster care adoptions. You were
interested in the increases reported in finalized adoptions of foster children in five states-
Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, and Texas. These five states estimated increases in
finalized foster care adoptions for fiscal year 1998 of at least 50 percent over their base
numbers. In responding to your request, we conducted interviews with state child welfare
officials in March 1999.
STATE DATABASES WERE PRIMARY SOURCE OF NUMBERS REPORTED TO NACAC
Officials in four of the five states we reviewed told us that they derived the fiscal year 1998
and base numbers of finalized foster care adoptions reported by NACAC from their state child
welfare databases. These databases contain child-specific records of a state's foster care
population and are the source of data submitted by these states to the federal Adoption and
'Joe Kroll, "1998 U.S. Adoptions From Foster Care Projected to Exceed 36,000," Adoptalk (Winter 1999), pp. 1-2.
GAO/HEHS-99-114R Foster Care Adoptions
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United States. General Accounting Office. Foster Care: Increases in Adoption Rates, text, April 20, 1999; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc296830/m1/1/: accessed November 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.