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Interstate adoptions: Harder than they should be?
Red tape » Group urges standardized procedures nationwide to encourage more adoptions by out-of-state families.


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The case fueled criticism that interstate adoptions are often needlessly hampered by bureaucratic hurdles.

Laura Kirksey, an interstate adoption specialist with Florida’s Department of Children and Families, said the case prompted her agency to stress to its staff that placement of a foster child with relatives should be given serious consideration even if the relatives lived out-of-state.

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In 2011, interstate adoptions accounted for just 172 of the 2,751 children adopted out of Florida’s foster care system.

Kirksey agreed that varying state home study requirements can be a source of frustration, and said standardization could have great benefits. Another major improvement, she said, would be a national database that all states could access, sharing information that could dramatically speed the processing of interstate adoptions.

She said many states, unlike Florida, still keep most of their child welfare records on paper and not in electronic form, leading to cases where crucial documents are sometimes lost or delayed in the mail.

"We’ve got to move forward," she said. "Processing things by paper is ridiculous."

Terry Clark, director of the Division of Operations in Pennsylvania’s Office of Children, Youth and Families, said some child welfare officials had been trying to build support for creating a national database.

"The problem is funding," he said. "They haven’t found enough states that are willing to pay up."




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