Vermont’s out-of-home system of care for children placed into the custody of the state faces many obstacles. The dedicated foster parents, adoptive families, and residential providers who make up that system need an influx of support, resources, and continuity from the state of Vermont to continue to provide the kind of care and services that will prepare children in custody for adulthood.
According to experienced foster parents, children coming into custody are increasingly needy. There are significant requirements for school intervention advocacy, evaluation, or treatment for physical health issues and evaluation and treatment of serious mental health issues. Older children have often already had several foster home placements and usually need intensive and comprehensive mental health services.
Yet even with the increasing challenges to foster parents, state foster care subsidies have been level-funded for the past four years. Support for Adoptive Families Children in the custody of the state who are adopted will most likely continue to have special needs, and the adoptive family will often need specialized services to ensure the success of the adoption.
Though there are limited funds to provide services for families who adopt children from state custody, some of those families have been told that there is no adoption subsidy available. In addition, families who adopt special needs children outside the state system have no access to state money for services. Both subsidies and services are essential to strengthen and preserve many adoptive families who adopt special needs children.
* Children coming into custody are increasingly needy, yet foster care subsidies have been level-funded for the last four years. (14)
* There is an extreme shortage of therapeutic or treatment foster care homes for high-risk children and youth. (15)
* Foster parents are dropping out of the system because of inadequate subsidies. (16)
* There are currently 1,300 Vermont children under the age of eighteen who have been adopted through the state foster care system. (17)
* Postadoption subsidies for foster parents who adopt are no longer available to all families who adopt from the state foster care system. As a result, Vermont faces a reduction in the number of families available for adoption of special needs children and youth. (18)
* Approximately one-third of the 150 adoptions finalized each year will need access to specialized services if they are to be successful. (19)
* What limited funding that is available for postadoption services for families who adopt is not available to families who adopt outside the state system, such as grandparents or kinship adoptions and international or domestic adoptions. Many of these children have special needs. (20)
* Increase the foster care subsidy substantially.
* Make the development of high-quality therapeutic or treatment foster care homes a high priority.
* Provide adoption subsidies for all adoptive parents who adopt children leaving state custody.
* Infuse resources into postadoption services to strengthen and preserve adoptive families.