About the Law

The most significant federal reforms to child welfare in over 10 years

Passed unanimously by Congress and signed into law on October 7, 2008, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering Connections) made critically important changes to improve the lives of children, youth, and families affected by the nation's child welfare system.  The new law aims to promote permanency and improved outcomes for children in foster care through policy changes in six key areas: 1) support for kinship care and family connections, 2) support for older youth, 3) coordinated health services, 4) improved educational stability and opportunities, 5) incentives and assistance for adoption, and 6) direct access to federal resources for Indian Tribes.   The new law also increases federal reimbursement (up to 75 percent) and expands the allowable costs for Title IV-E training. 

This landmark legislation includes new options for states and tribes to consider as well as specific requirements that must be met.  

  • The requirements in the new law are aimed at improving the oversight of foster children's health care  needs, educational stability, and connection to family members.
  • The law offers two new important options for states to improve outcomes for children in foster care through: (1) federal matching payments for states choosing to provide guardianship assistance to grandparents and other relatives who become legal guardians of foster children; and (2) federal matching payments for states choosing to continue foster care assistance for older youth up to the age of 21 for youth engaged in school, work, or other constructive activities.
  • Fostering Connections provides additional federal assistance to support caseworker training, to directly assist children in Tribal foster care, and to promote adoption policies that provide support and incentives for adopting children out of the foster care system.