WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chairman of the Oversight of the District of Columbia Subcommittee, and Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) held a hearing – Assessing Foster Care and Family Services in the District of Columbia: Challenges and Solutions – to examine the existing challenges and potential solutions for achieving a more effective foster care and adoption process in the District of Columbia.

The hearing was held in response to the D.C. Child and Family Service Agency’s (CFSA) reported decrease in finalized adoptions over a four year period.  During 2009, a total of 127 children were adopted from the foster care system, a significant decline from the 314 adoptions completed in 2004.

“The District faces great challenges in improving its child welfare system.  Rather than being discouraged by the work remaining, I am inspired by the dedicated witnesses here today,” said Senator Akaka. “I believe if we work together, over the coming years, we will make a difference for thousands of DC children who deserve a loving and permanent home.”

“It is no secret that children fare better with the security of a stable, permanent adult.  We heard that from the testimonies of the youth today,” said Senator Landrieu. “We have to do a better job of achieving permanency for the youth in care.  CFSA has the responsibility to ensure that every child in the foster care system is provided every opportunity to a loving a permanent family.  I look forward to working with the District to improve their permanency outcomes in the future.”

For more than a decade, CFSA has made efforts to reform the child welfare system, but with administrative barriers and lack of consistent management, close to 500 children are eligible for adoption in the District of Columbia, but do not have permanent home.

The hearing provided panelists, Dr. Roque Gerald, Director of CFSA; Judge Lee Satterfield, Superior Court Chief Judge; Judith Meltzer, Deputy Director of Center for the Study of Social Policy; Judith Sandalow, Executive Director of the Children’s Law Center; Sarah Ocran, Vice President, Foster Care Campaign and current foster youth; and Dominique Davis, youth adopted from care, the opportunity to offer policy recommendations for Congress and to share personal stories about life in foster care.

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Senator Akaka chairs the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia.