CCAI Legislative and Policy Update – January 2013

In this Update:

  • Adoption Tax Credit Extended in Tax Payer Relief Act
  • Russia Bans Adoptions to the United States
  • Universal Accreditation for Intercountry Adoptions in the U.S.
  • Uninterrupted Scholars Act Allows Access to Foster Youth School Records
  • U.S. Government Launches Action Plan on Children in Adversity
  • Supreme Court of the United States to Hear Indian Child Welfare Act Case on Adoption of Indian Child

***

Adoption Tax Credit Extended in Tax Payer Relief Act

The adoption tax credit, which can be claimed for eligible adoption-related expenses, has helped thousands of American families offset the high cost of adoption since the credit was established in 1997.  The American Taxpayer Relief Act permanently extends the adoption tax credit and income exclusion for employer paid or reimbursed adoption expenses up to $10,000 (adjusted for inflation).

  • Official estimates will be released later by the IRS, but the projected maximum amount of the adoption credit for 2013 is expected to be $12,770. While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act made the adoption tax credit refundable for FY 2011 and 2012, the credit included in this latest extension is not refundable.

For a copy of the bill see the Text of the Bill from Senate Finance Committee website (the third PDF from the link provides a summary that lists the provisions in the bill).

To learn more about the adoption tax credit, its history and application please see:

Resources:

News Articles:

Russia Bans Adoptions to the United States

On December 28, 2012, President Putin signed Federal Law 18661406, known as the Yakovlev Act, prohibiting the adoption of Russian children by U.S. families effective on January 1, 2013.

  • Law is named after Dima Yakovlev, adopted as Chase Harrison, who died after being left by his U.S. adoptive father in a hot car in 2007.
  • Lawmakers in the Russian Duma have stated that the legislation is a direct response to the U.S. “Magnitsky Act” which is designed to address human rights violations by sanctioning a specific group of Russian officials connected to the death of a whistleblowing lawyer in a Moscow prison.
  • Passage of this law has entirely halted the adoptions of an estimated 500 to 1000 children to U.S. families who were at various stages in the adoption process when the law was passed.
  • State Department reports that they are aware of 565 pending adoptions: 57 cases where the adoptive family has already obtained an adoption decree from a Russian court, 234 cases where a waiting child has been officially matched with an American family, and 274 cases where State is currently unaware whether the family was officially matched with a child.
  • Department of State is working with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to create a comprehensive list of these and any additional U.S. families that may have approved suitability applications to understand the full universe of transition cases that will be impacted by the ban.

Several actions have been taken by Members of Congress in response to this crisis.

  • First, on December 21, 2012, Senators sent a letter to Putin asking for him to not sign the bill into law.
  • Shortly thereafter, the United States Senate passed S. Res. 628 and the House is expected to introduce a similar measure shortly.
  • Members have discussed taking other actions including sending a bicameral letter to President Obama, as well as asking the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. to come to Congress and brief both the House and Senate on his country’s intentions to process outstanding adoption cases.

Russia’s decision to abruptly end adoptions by the U.S. families is tragic for two reasons. First, that Russia would see fit to use their own children as political pawns, and second, that their actions did not evoke moral outrage by members of the global community.   Until a child’s right to a family is properly recognized as a basic human right, such violations can continue without serious consequences for anyone other than the children themselves.

Resources:

  • CCAI Country Overview on Russian Adoptions–View an overview on adoptions in Russia, links to the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues’ Russia Alerts and the U.S. Embassy in Moscow’s recent statements, as well as a recent congressional letter to President Putin and other helpful resources.

News Articles:

Universal Accreditation for Intercountry Adoptions in the U.S.

In 2000, The Intercountry Adoption Act required that adoption agencies assisting with an international adoption be accredited.  Where the IAA fell short is that it only applied to adoptions between countries that are both parties to the Hague Convention, meaning that if an adoption is between the U.S. and a non-Hague country such as Russia or Ethiopia, the agency performing the adoption does not have to be accredited and the family involved is left without the corresponding services and protections.

  • The Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 eliminates the “dual track” system, as explained in CCAI’s What Barriers Remain Report and extends the terms of the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 to all adoption service providers offering or providing adoption services regardless of whether the child’s country of origin is a signatory to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption.
  • The Senate version of the bill (S.3331) was passed by the House on January 1, 2013 and sent to the President for signature.

Resources:

News Articles:

Uninterrupted Scholars Act Allows Access to Foster Youth School Records

The Uninterrupted Scholars Act amended the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). When FERPA was written in 1974, lawmakers’ intended to protect parents’ control over their children’s student records. However, because of FERPA, social workers had to obtain a court order to access the school records of a youth in foster care. This meant that youth in care, many of whom have multiple foster care placements, which resulted in school transfers, often had to retake classes or repeat grades because the child welfare agencies and schools could not effectively and efficiently communicate about an individual’s academic records. The Uninterrupted Scholars Act provides social workers access to school records in an effort to ease transitions and improve educational outcomes for foster youth.

Resources:

News Articles:

Action Plan on Children in Adversity

U.S. Government Launches Action Plan on Children in Adversity

The Action Plan is the first-ever whole-of-government strategic guidance on international assistance for children in adversity. The Plan provides a blueprint for the appropriate USG agencies to use in delivering coordinated and effective assistance to children who are vulnerable to violence, abuse, exploitation, and neglect and is governed by three core objectives:

  • Build strong beginnings:  The U.S. Government will help ensure that children under five not only survive, but also thrive by supporting comprehensive programs that promote sound development of children through the integration of health, nutrition, and family support.
  • Put family care first: U.S. Government assistance will support and enable families to care for their children, prevent unnecessary family-child separation, and promote appropriate, protective and permanent family care.
  • Protect children: The U.S. Government will facilitate the efforts of national governments and partners to prevent, respond to, and protect children from violence, exploitation, abuse, and neglect.

Within five years, the Plan calls for USG funded programs to achieve significant reductions in the number of children not meeting age-appropriate growth and developmental milestones; children living outside of family care; and children who experience violence or exploitation.

Resources:

News Articles:

Supreme Court of the United States to Hear Indian Child Welfare Act Case on Adoption of Indian Child

On January 4, 2012 the Supreme Court agreed to address a 1978 federal law underlying the adoption of American Indian children.  The last time the Court reviewed a case regarding the federal Indian Child Welfare Act was 24 years ago in the 1989 Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians v. Holyfield.  Since that time, state supreme courts have been split in their decisions regarding the placements of Native American children impacted by the law.  The Court has agreed to hear the case of “Baby Veronica” who was adopted by a couple in South Carolina and later removed from her adoptive placement and placed with her biological father, a member of the Cherokee tribe living in Oklahoma.

Resources:

News Articles:

About ccainstitute

The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the millions of children around the world in need of permanent, safe, and loving homes and to eliminating the barriers that hinder these children from realizing their basic right of a family.
This entry was posted in Educational Stability, Foster Care, International, Right to a family, Russia, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to CCAI Legislative and Policy Update – January 2013

  1. Pingback: Update on Russian Ban on Intercountry Adoptions to the United States | Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s