U.S. Representative Adam Smith (D-WA-09) Named Adoption Caucus Co-Chair for the 117th Congress

For Immediate Release
Contact: Taylor Draddy
202-544-8500
taylor@ccainstitute.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 8, 2021 –The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), in partnership with the Congressional Coalition on Adoption (CCA), announced the newest CCA co-chair for the 117th Congress: U.S. Representative Adam Smith of Washington state.

The CCA is the largest bicameral, bipartisan congressional member organization and works to engage Members of Congress on issues pertaining to the needs of children and youth in the U.S. foster care system, adoptees, supporting and strengthening families, and strengthening domestic and international child welfare, as well as to advocate for every child’s right to a safe, stable, nurturing, and permanent family. The role of the CCA co-chairs is to lead and actively engage their colleagues in Congress and draft and support federal policies that help vulnerable children, youth, and families and strengthen child welfare systems.

Representative Smith was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996 and represents the 9th district of Washington. Currently, he serves as the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. The Congressman previously served in the Washington State Senate and has a long history of being a strong advocate for children and families as an adoptee himself. He has led the efforts to close a loophole to provide U.S. citizenship to international adoptees brought to the U.S. as children but were never granted citizenship.

Representative Smith joins the CCA’s three current co-chairs: Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, and Representative Robert Aderholt of Alabama.

“I am proud to co-chair the Congressional Coalition on Adoption for the 117th Congress with Co-Chairs Amy Klobuchar, Roy Blunt, and Robert Aderholt,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “We must ensure we are providing support for our most vulnerable children, including orphaned and foster youth, and enacting policies that give children in need an opportunity to find permanent homes. I look forward to continuing the great work the coalition has done to raise awareness about issues related to orphans, youth in foster care, and adoptees.”

“I’m thrilled to welcome Representative Smith – a longtime advocate for children and families and an adoptee himself – as a co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption,” said Klobuchar. “I’m confident that together we’ll continue to advance policies that support families and children during the adoption process, helping to ensure all children have the safe, loving home they deserve.”

By joining the CCA, Members of Congress have the opportunity to participate in programs and events throughout the year that allow them to interact with vulnerable children and youth, the families that care for them, and subject matter experts to hear the stories of the challenges and opportunities they experience and to strengthen federal policy with this information.

“The Congressional Adoption Caucus is the largest bipartisan, bicameral caucus in the U.S. Congress for a reason. Ensuring that all children have a stable home and loving family is a bipartisan priority,” said Blunt. “I look forward to working with Congressman Smith and our fellow caucus co-chairs and members to continue our efforts to improve the adoption process, support families, and get us closer to our goal of seeing every child in the safe, permanent home they deserve.”

“Congressman Smith and I are both members of the Congressional Class of 1996,” said Congressman Robert Aderholt. “I’ve known him for a long time now, and he will make a great addition to our efforts to promote and support adoption – both domestic and international.”

The co-chairs and CCA are supported by CCAI, the non-profit institute dedicated to raising awareness about children in need of families both domestically and internationally and to eliminating the policy barriers that hinder children from having safe, nurturing, and forever families.

“CCAI is happy to have Congressman Smith is stepping into the role of co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption,” said CCAI’s Board of Directors Chair, The Honorable Mary Landrieu. “Amazing things can happen when Members choose to come together across party lines to elevate the needs of children, youth, and families. We are so grateful for Congressman Smith’s willingness to join the three other co-chairs of the CCA who work with their colleagues on behalf of vulnerable children.”

In the last 36 years, Members of the CCA have led Congress in the passage of legislation that has dramatically improved the lives of children and families including the “Family First Prevention and Services Act,” the “Adoption and Safe Families Act,” the “John Chafee Foster Care Independence Act,” the “Promoting Safe and Stable Families Act,” the “Hope for Children Act,” the “Intercountry Adoption Act,” the “Fostering Connections and Increasing Adoptions Act,” and the “Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act.”

Today there are over 423,000 children in foster care, and nearly 123,000 of these children are eligible for adoption, waiting for families to call their own. Children living in orphanages globally are estimated conservatively at eight million, with unknown numbers living on the streets.

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The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (www.ccainstitute.org) is a bipartisan, nonprofit organization that serves as an objective, educational resource for information critical to advancing the efforts of federal policymakers on behalf of children in need of families. To learn more about CCAI, follow the organization on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

CONGRESS INCLUDES COVID-RELIEF FOR FOSTER YOUTH IN THE LATEST STIMULUS PACKAGE

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 22, 2020 – Last night, Congress passed a $900 billion pandemic relief package which included the Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act (H.R. 7947), introduced by Adoption Caucus member and Ways & Means Worker & Family Support Subcommittee Chairman Danny Davis (D-IL) and Ranking Member Jackie Walorski (R-IN). This legislation addresses the many urgent and unique needs of vulnerable children and youth who encounter the U.S. foster care system by providing targeted and temporary relief during the pandemic.

Key provisions include:

  • Places a national moratorium on youth aging out of foster care during the pandemic;
  • Allows re-entry into foster care up to age 22;
  • Increases Chafee funds by $400 million to meet the urgent and unique needs;
  • Expands Chafee eligibility through age 26;
  • Increases Education & Training Vouchers (ETVs) from $5,000 to $12,000 per person per year;
  • Waives extended foster care work and school requirements; and
  • Lifts the 30% Chafee housing cap for youth who have aged out.

While the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) does not lobby for or against or endorse individual bills, we are very committed to bringing objective, accurate information to Members of Congress and their constituents on all issues related to federal foster care, adoption, and child welfare policy.

CCAI would like to thank Chairman Davis, Ranking Member Walorski, the bipartisan group of cosponsors, and child welfare advocates for championing this important relief for young people who have been hit hard by the pandemic. CCAI’s 2020 Foster Youth Internship Program® class met with these members this summer and shared their special COVID relief report and recommendations.

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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 legal, social, and financial barriers that hinder these children from realizing their basic right of a family.

For questions, please contact Taylor Draddy at 202-544-8500 or Taylor@ccainstitute.org. For more information or to learn more about the work of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, visit www.ccainstitute.org or contact info@ccainstitute.org or (202) 544-8500.

Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute Celebrates 2020 Angels in Adoption® Honorees in a Virtual Gala

WASHINGTON, D.C. – [September 28, 2020] – Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) will celebrate 96 honorees as 2020 Angels in Adoption® for their outstanding advocacy with adoption, foster care, and child welfare issues on September 30 at 8PM EST in a virtual gala.

The Angels in Adoption® Program is CCAI’s signature public awareness event and provides an annual opportunity for all members of the U.S. Congress to honor the good work of their constituents who have enriched the lives of children and families in the United States and abroad. This year, more than 95 Angels from 42 states are being honored through the 22nd Annual Angels in Adoption® Program.  

“The Angels in Adoption program gives a platform to the families, advocates, and experts who so often serve quietly behind the scenes yet make a huge impact on behalf of children and families. Together with the Adoption Caucus, we are thrilled to shine a light on the extraordinary work of our Angels,” said CCAI’s Executive Director, Nancy Kay Blackwell.

In addition to the Angel honorees from around the country, CCAI also honors a select number of National Angels in Adoption® whose contributions have had a national impact. The 2020 National Angels are Magnolia Earl & Family (Gerber’s 2020 & First Adopted Spokesbaby), Todd Tilghman (adoptive parent and 2020 Winner of The Voice), Miranda & Luke Caldwell (adoptive parents and stars on HGTV’s Boise Boys), and This Is Us (award-winning family drama television show with adoption and foster care storylines).

Past National Angels include Muhammad Ali, First Lady Laura Bush, Kristin Chenoweth, Scott Fujita, Deborra-lee Furness, Katherine Heigl and Josh Kelley, Patti LaBelle, Ne-Yo, Rhea Perlman, Shonda Rhimes, Korie and Willie Robertson, Al Roker, Jane Seymour, Sean Anders, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, Bruce Willis, Nia Vardalos, Bill Klein and Jen Arnold, Scott and Tracie Hamilton, Connie Britton, Rachel Crow, CBS Studios, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, NVIDIA, Hallmark Channel, and PEOPLE Magazine.

CCAI is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about children and youth in the United States and around the world in need of permanent, safe, and loving homes. Founded in 2001 by the co-chairs of the bicameral, bipartisan adoption caucus – the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, one of Congress’ premier caucuses – CCAI works with the caucus to eliminate policy barriers that hinder children from realizing their basic right of a family and more effectively raise congressional and public awareness about adoption, foster care, and child welfare. 

CCAI does not receive any government funding and relies on the generous support of foundations, corporations, and individuals to accomplish this mission. The 22nd Annual Angels in Adoption® Program would not be possible without our Platinum Partners: Arnold & Porter, Carlson Family Foundation, and Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption; our Gold Partners: American Council of Life Insurers, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Casey Family Programs, and Retail Orphan Initiative; and our Silver Partners: American Retirement Association, Bella Grazia Fund, Both Ends Believing, Comcast NBCUniversal, ConocoPhillips, The Neely Family, The Paul & Emily Singer Family Foundation, Rita M. Lewis and Susan B. Hirschmann.

To register and stream the virtual gala on September 30 at 8PM EST, please visit bit.ly/2020angelsgala. For more information, visit http://www.ccainstitute.org.

Introducing CCAI’s Foster Youth Intern COVID-19 Pandemic Working Group

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Foster Youth Internship (FYI) Program is continuing as a modified, virtual program this summer. The CCAI Board of Directors and staff have considered several alternative plans over the past few weeks and fully believe this program option is the safest and most meaningful opportunity for the 2020 class. The 2020 FYI Program is a part-time virtual policy commitment via the CCAI Foster Youth Intern COVID-19 Pandemic Working Group. This working group allows the 2020 Foster Youth Interns to research, provide federal policy recommendations, and ultimately influence policymakers on ways to support foster youth and strengthen the child welfare system during and after the pandemic. The 2020 Foster Youth Interns will publish their research and hold a virtual webinar on Wednesday, July 22 at 3PM EST to present their recommendations to the child welfare community across the nation. Meet the 2020 Foster Youth Interns of the COVID-19 Pandemic Working Group here

Additionally, because of our wonderful partners, each 2020 Foster Youth Intern who participates in the working group will receive a stipend this summer to help cover housing, grocery, and other general living expenses. CCAI will also support the 2020 FYIs by hosting a monthly engagement program from August 2020 through May 2021, so the 2020 class can maintain momentum and progress on professional development, advocacy, and child welfare issues. We will know more details early this fall on our 2021 program.

Congressional Coalition On Adoption Institute Names Nancy Kay Blackwell Executive Director

WASHINGTON, D.C., Apr 9, 2020 – The Board of Directors of Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) announced it has appointed Nancy Kay Blackwell to the position of Executive Director.

NANCY KAY BLACKWELL HIGH RES“The CCAI Board of Directors is very pleased to welcome Nancy to the CCAI team. Her experience, skills, and leadership bring an invaluable depth of knowledge and understanding to CCAI’s work to remove barriers for children in need of families,” said The Honorable Mary L. Landrieu, CCAI Board Chair. “Nancy’s personal passion for children and youth, coupled with her professional expertise in child welfare make her exceptionally qualified to lead CCAI into its third decade.”

Nancy has spent more than 20 years in human services for social and public policy driven organizations in the Greater Baltimore area, Annapolis, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. Her areas of focus include child welfare, early childhood education, family homelessness, poverty issues, faith-based policy, workforce development, and fatherhood initiatives for local, state, and national programs.

Nancy was most recently Special Assistant and Senior Advisor at D.C. Department of Human Services’ Family Services Administration where she led the Rapid Rehousing Task Force and managed a portfolio that included program rules and domestic violence. Prior to this role, Nancy served as Executive Director of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Baltimore for five years. At CASA, Nancy managed the day-to-day operations, raised the annual operating expenses through grant writing, individual, and corporate giving, and raised the voices of foster youth throughout the city. She was also very active with National CASA Association and chaired their Urban Programs Council to coordinate the views and needs of urban programs nationally.

Nancy has also worked at National Association of Foster Care Children of America, D.C. Child and Family Services, Maryland Interfaith Legislative Committee, Center for Urban Families (formerly Center for Fathers, Families and Workforce Development), Baltimore City Department of Social Services, and Maryland Department of Human Services. Nancy has a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Language and Political Science, Master of Public Administration, and Master of Jurisprudence.

“I feel like my career has led me to CCAI. I hope to bring positive relationships I have built over the years to CCAI’s mission given the unique circumstance we find ourselves in today to meet the urgent need of orphans, adoptees, and foster youth,” said Nancy Kay Blackwell, CCAI Executive Director. “I am looking forward to working with the staff and board to grow the programs.”

For 19 years, CCAI has been an established resource for the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Coalition on Adoption, the United States Congress’ caucus on adoption and permanency for children. CCAI works to provide federal policymakers with the information and resources needed to make the dream of a family a reality for every child through its core programs, including Angels in Adoption®, Foster Youth Internship Program®, and 20/20 Vision delegations.

CCAI is governed by a board of directors whose members include The Honorable Mary L. Landrieu, Senior Policy Advisor at Van Ness Feldman and former U.S. Senator from Louisiana; Susan Neely, President and CEO of American Council of Life Insurers; Russell Sullivan, Shareholder of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck; Susan Hirschmann, CEO of Williams & Jensen; Brian Graff, CEO of American Retirement Association; Kelly Gage, Senior Philanthropic Advisor of Nomi Network; Kerry Marks Hasenbalg, Founding CCAI Executive Director and CEO of Becoming Foundation, Inc.; Kim Carver, Vice President Government Relations of Gulf Coast Bank; Rick Spielman, General Manager of NFL’s Minnesota Vikings; and Rita Lewis, President of RML Strategies.

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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 legal, social, and financial barriers that hinder these children from realizing their basic right of a family.

For more information or to learn more about the work of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, visit http://www.ccainstitute.org or contact info@ccainstitute.org or (202) 544-8500.

 

CCAI’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

We recognize the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way we live and work, and in this time of uncertainty, we want to share our current operational plans for the next few weeks. Now more than ever, CCAI acknowledges the importance of our efforts and collaboration as child welfare leaders to protect vulnerable children and support families across the nation and around the world.

  • In order to minimize contact between people, the CCAI staff has been and will continue to work remotely for the next few weeks with full access to email, office phone lines, and work cell phones.
  • Our Congressional Resource Program, which educates and resources Members of Congress and their staff, is in full swing. CCAI is working hard to remotely support the adoption caucus with COVID-19 legislative efforts while Congress is in and out of session.
  • As of today, we plan to hold both the annual Foster Youth Internship Program® this summer (May 25 – July 24, 2020) and Angels in Adoption® Program this fall (September 22 – 23, 2020). However, our decisions moving forward with the FYI Program will be based on whether (1) Congress is hosting congressional internships this summer and (2) if dorm space is available for housing. We continue to daily monitor COVID-19 and will comply with the recommendations set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), D.C. government, and other national leaders.

Our mission at CCAI is to raise awareness about the millions of children around the world in need of permanent, safe, and loving families and to eliminate the legal, social, and financial barriers so that every child knows the love and support of a family. We use our mission to guide us in everything we do and want to share a few resources amid the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides specific guidance for households that will be helpful to foster family home providers. The guidance includes ways to plan, prepare, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. See full guidance here.
  • The Family Focused Treatment Association (FFTA) has created a new forum for professionals dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. The forum has spaces for sharing resources and discussing policies and procedures. While only members are allowed to post in the forum, FFTA has opened the resource pages to the public so that they can be viewed and shared. Find the forum here.
  • ChildTrends has information on resources for supporting children’s emotional well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance, recommendations, and resources are provided by child trauma experts at ChildTrends and the University of Massachusetts’ Child Trauma Training Center. Read more here.
  • The National Child and Traumatic Stress Network has created a parent/caregiver guide to helping families cope with COVID-19 and infectious disease outbreaks in the community. Knowing important information about the outbreak and learning how to be prepared can reduce stress and help calm anxieties. This resource will help parents and caregivers think about how an infectious disease outbreak might affect their family — both physically and emotionally — and what they can do to help their family cope. Find the guide here.
  • Chosen Care is coordinating virtual parent-to-parent support groups to help families address the challenges that accompany shelter-in-place and stay-at-home practices. Their live support groups will take place each week with ten minutes of trauma-informed education. The remainder of the hour will be open to questions with their seasoned staff and for participants to provide support to each other, parent-to-parent. The same content will be available at three different times per week. Sign up here. Additionally, the Child Welfare Information Gateway has more parent support groups here.
  • Generations United has developed a fact sheet for grandfamilies and multi-generational families. It includes up-to-date information about the virus, risks for older adults and children, suggestions for staying connected and selfcare, and accessing essential resources. See the full fact sheet here.

Thank you for being part of the extended CCAI family. We wish you and your community health and peace of mind. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you know of any new ideas or collaborative efforts CCAI could engage in or help with to better support children, youth, and young adults without families.