Adoption and Foster Care
Throughout her years of public service, Senator Landrieu has pursued her vision of every child having a family to call his or her own. As founding co-chair and Board President of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption and co-chair of the Congressional Foster Care Caucus, the Senator has long been dedicated to increasing awareness about the vulnerability of children living outside of family care and to promoting responsible adoption and foster care policy. Senator Landrieu believes that U.S. investments in child welfare programs should provide children with opportunities to reach their full potential - because today's youth will inherit the world we leave behind.
Promoting Foster Care and Adoption Awareness
In 2011, Senator Landrieu introduced Senate resolutions in honor of National Adoption Day, National Adoption Month and National Foster Care Month on the Senate Floor. As founding co-chair and Board President of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, she has helped this association to grow into the largest bipartisan, bicameral caucus in all of Congress. The Senator also co-chairs the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth.
Families First Pilot Program
Senator Landrieu was able to include the Families First Pilot Program within the fiscal year 2012 federal spending bill. This program will provide up to $4.5 million to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to allocate to partner governments to improve their programs for children living outside of family care. The Families First Pilot Program will allow the U.S. to partner with foreign countries to improve their child welfare programs, helping children around the world live happier, safer and more productive lives.
Foster Care Mentoring Act, S. 420
In March 2011, Senator Landrieu introduced S. 420, the Foster Care Mentoring Act. If passed, this legislation will address the needs of the 424,000 children in domestic foster care. Among its many tenets, the bill would authorize $15 million to establish statewide foster care mentoring programs, provide $4 million to begin a national foster care awareness campaign and provide mentors to foster children up to $10,000 in federal student loan forgiveness. S.420 is currently being considered by the Senate Finance Committee. Representative Karen Bass from California has introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives.
Angels in Adoption
Senator Landrieu has been the Principal Congressional Liaison for the Angels in Adoption program since its inception in 1999 and will again play the principal role at this year's event, which runs from September 10-12, 2012. Angels in Adoption, sponsored by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), gives members of Congress the opportunity to recognize individuals and organizations for their advocacy of adoption issues. More than 190 families were recognized by Angels in Adoption in 2011. Senator Landrieu's 2011 Louisiana honorees were Charlie Cusimano and Vicki Crochet of Baton Rouge, Danna Cousins of New Orleans, and Robert and Kay Kenney of Baton Rouge.
Assistance to American Families Adopting Internationally
Adopting American families often find themselves at the mercy of unresponsive and complicated foreign childcare infrastructures. Senator Landrieu is one of the lead advocates in the Senate to mediate between the State Department, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and foreign governments to promote capable child welfare systems worldwide. The Senator has traveled to Guatemala three times in the past year to urge the country's government to process the over 350 stalled adoptions of Guatemalan children to American families, some of whom have been waiting for to complete their adoptions for more than nine years. Similarly, Senator Landrieu has traveled to Africa, Asia and Western Europe in pursuit of finding permanent homes for the world's orphans.
The simple fact is this: governments do many things well, but raising children is not one of them. Politicians talk of how important the family is, and yet programs that provide for the protection and support of children and their families are often the last and least funded. Through legislation and her work as a founding co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption and the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, Senator Landrieu has strived to promote responsible policies for the long-term care and support of America's children and families.