US President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday aimed at strengthening child-welfare programs nationwide.
In the executive order, Trump stated that the states and communities have a legal obligation and privilege to care for those in foster care. Last year, the number of children both entering into and actually in foster care declined. However, more than 400,000 children are still in foster care, and more than 124,000 are waiting for adoption. More than half of the children waiting for adoption have been in foster care for two years or longer.
Additionally, in recent years, about 20,000 people aged out of foster care. Individuals who age out are more likely to experience significant life challenges, such as homelessness, unemployment and PTSD. The executive order stated that these were “unacceptable outcomes.”
In order to strengthen child-welfare programs, the executive order stated that the Secretary of Health and Human Services will provide increased public access to information to facilitate close partnerships between state agencies and nongovernmental organizations. This will include collecting data on children in foster care who have siblings and are not placed with them, as well as developing data analysis methods to report on the experiences of children entering foster care in sibling groups. The Secretary will also collect information to work on expanding the number of homes available for children.
The executive order also stated that caregivers lack access to adequate resources. To fix this, educational opportunities will be expanded, the availability of trauma-informed training will be increased, and there will support for kinship and existing foster homes.
As stated in the executive order:
Children from all backgrounds have the potential to become successful and thriving adults. Yet without a committed, loving family that can provide encouragement, stability, and a lifelong connection, some children may never receive the support needed to realize that potential. This order will help to empower families who answer the call to open their hearts and homes to children who need them. My Administration is committed to helping give as many children as possible the stability and support that family provides by dramatically improving our child welfare system.