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New bill promises incentives for promoting guardianship

In Arkansas, like in the rest of the U.S, successfully establishing a permanent home for a child in foster care depends on a number of factors. The idea of establishing guardianships came into vogue as a means of alleviating the difficulty in finding a home for those children who have relatives but the relatives are either uncomfortable with adoption or who need additional assistance

Currently, however, states are only rewarded for finalized adoptions, not guardianships. H.R. 4980, a bipartisan bill agreed to by the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means was recently proposed. The bill is a conglomeration of other laws and will play a role in altering the way that guardianship incentives now function for states.

Under the current body of laws, the adoption incentives offered to states include reimbursement of $4,000 for general foster youth adoption. Also, a $4,000 reimbursement is allowed to states for the adoption of every child with special needs. In addition, a reimbursement of $8,000 is allowed for adoption of youths between ages 9 to 18.

Under the new bill, an incentive of $4,000 will be allowed for every placement of guardianship and $5,000 has been proposed as allowance for every adoption. Furthermore, an incentive of $7,500 has been allowed as improvement upon adoption as well as guardianship placements for youths between 9 to 14 years of age. Finally, an incentive of $10,000 has been proposed for improvements on adoption and guardianship placements of youths above the age of 14.

Adoptions and guardianships are perceived to have equal value under H.R. 4980. The guardianship incentives are a novel approach as no federal program has ever paid states for anything short of an adoption. The idea behind the new bill is to promote guardianship placements so that more children in foster care find permanent homes. In such cases of guardianship issues, an experienced family law attorney may be able to provide valuable assistance.

Source: Chronicle of Social Change, "How The New Adoption Incentives Would Work," John Kelly, July 8, 2014

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