Not every applicant would make an equally suitable adoptive or foster parent. But if the professionals who must evaluate those applications aren’t all asking the same set of questions, it’s pretty hard to compare applicants and to identify those that would best suit a child’s individual needs for a safe, loving home.
Recognizing this, a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers has introduced a resolution that would standardize the process of conducting home visits and require uploading the results of these visits into a database that placement agencies could use to efficiently find the right fit. Currently, home study requirements vary all over the map.
Introducing companion measures in their respective houses are Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York and James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma; and Reps. Jared Huffman, Democrat of California and Don Bacon, Republican of Nebraska. The measure is called the National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Act of 2021.
In a statement, the lawmakers said the current lack of uniformity has led to the collection of inaccurate information on adoptive or foster families, decisions based on applicants’ unverified self-reported information, a slow and costly home-study process and delays in interstate adoption and fostering.
The measure would require the development of a research-based home study assessment process and the launching of pilot projects in states that want to participate. If the changes prove useful, the process would be implemented nationwide. The data gleaned from these visits would be uploaded to a limited-access database, and the process would be periodically evaluated after full implementation.
Among other supporting groups and individuals are the National Association of Counsel for Children and the Consortium for Children.