A new Minnesota bill is attempting to help increase adoption rates in Minnesota by providing larger subsidies for families who choose to adopt.
Adoption advocates say the state’s adoption rate currently stands as the second lowest rate in the nation due in large part to the lack of financial assistance that is provided to adoptive families.
Typical subsides for a child in foster care is almost $700 a month, but financial support for families who adopt a foster child is less than $400. Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson believes larger subsides will take the burden off families who are unsure about the financial support associated with adopting a child.
“One thing we heard from every part of Minnesota was we need to change the way we pay for adoption assistance,” Jesson said. “We have disincentives built into our system … because, frankly, we pay more for children to be in foster care than we do for adoption assistance.”
Jesson noted that according to the Department of Human Services, Minnesota has a large disparity between foster care and adoption subsides. The state has one of the highest rates of foster care financial assistance, yet it ranks near the bottom for adoption subsides.
Joe Knoll, who works for the North American Council on Adoptable Children, said the government needs to re-evaluate how it allocates both subsides.
“I’ve watched over the years why that happens,” said Knoll. “It is a structural problem because the foster care costs are borne by the counties and the subsidized adoption costs are borne by the states. The Legislature gives a cost of living to the counties, passes it on, and they don’t give it themselves at the state.”
The proposed bill would re-structure the financial allocations, equalizing monthly funding for foster care, relative care, and adoptive families.
Jesson says their bill has evidence that the proposed system would increase adoption rates. She said the state already conducted a test project that equalized foster care and adoption payments, and the results were successful. Jesson said adoption rates increase 20 percent during the trial.
Brenda Reedy, who adopted two children during the state’s trial project, said there are added expenses when it comes to adopting a child out of a foster home, and the extra money helped cover those expenses.
“We all know that raising children is expensive, Reedy said.”What many people don’t know is raising kids that come out of the foster care system can be much more expensive. You don’t realize all the therapy you’re going to need. The years — we’ve had our kids for seven years — our son’s been in therapy all those seven years. You know, doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, occupational therapy; you name it, we’ve been there.”
The proposal asks for roughly $2.5 million to be added to the governor’s proposed two-year budget. Jesson says the funds would provide adoptive families with the money they need, and the changes would not lessen subsides that the majority of foster families receive. She did say that the top six percent would see a decrease to their foster care subsides, but she thinks the change will be beneficial to a greater amount of people, especially those children looking for a home.
Currently 335 children are waiting to be adopted in Minnesota foster care.
Related source: Minnesota Public Radio
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