Presentation on theme: "MEPA/IEP Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 Interethnic Adoption Provisions of 1996."— Presentation transcript:
MEPA/IEP Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 Interethnic Adoption Provisions of 1996
MEPA/IEP The Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA) was enacted in 1994 amid spirited and sometimes contentious debate about transracial adoption and same-race placement policies. At the heart of this debate is a desire to promote the best interests of children by ensuring that they have permanent, safe, stable, and loving homes that will meet their individual needs. US Department of Health & Human Services/Administration for Children & Families
MEPA/IEP Of particular concern are the African American and other minority children who are dramatically over-represented at all stages of this system, wait far longer than Caucasian children for adoption, and are at far greater risk of never experiencing a permanent home. US Department of Health & Human Services/Administration for Children & Families
MEPA - Core Competencies Overview of Small Business Job Protection Act (P.L. 104-188) Reviewing MEPA regulations in regards to placement of children. Three basic requirements of MEPA. Understand the importance of recruiting ethnically diverse foster and adoptive parents.
Culture and Ethnicity Culture can be defined as all the ways of life including arts, beliefs and institutions of a population that are passed down from generation to generation. Culture has been called "the way of life for an entire society."As such, it includes codes of manners, dress, language, religion, rituals,, norms of behavior such as law and morality, and systems of belief as well as the art. An ethnic group can be defined as human beings whose members identify with each other, usually on the basis of a presumed or real common ancestry. Ethnic identity is further marked by the recognition from others of a group's distinctiveness and the recognition of common cultural, linguistic, religious, behavioral or biological traits, real or presumed, as indicators of contrast to other groups.
PL 104-188 Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996 Sec. 1808. Specifically addresses the removal of barriers to interethnic adoption. –(A) Deny to any person the opportunity to become an adoptive or a foster parent, on the basis of the race, color, or national origin of the person, or of the child involved; or –(B) Delay or deny the placement of a child for adoption or into foster care, on the basis of the race, color, or national origin of the adoptive or foster parent, or the child involved. –Child Welfare Information Gateway, http://childwelfare.gov/laws_policies/federal/p1104_188.cfm
The specific intentions of MEPA-IEP are to: Decrease the length of time that children wait to be adopted, Facilitate the recruitment and retention of foster and adoptive parents who can meet the distinctive needs of children awaiting placement, and... US Department of Health & Human Services/Administration for Children & Families Eliminate discrimination on the basis of the race, color, or national origin of the child or the prospective parent.
MEPA -IEP Mandate #1 It prohibits states and other entities that are involved in foster care or adoption placements, and that receive federal financial assistance under title IV-E, title IV-B, or any other federal program, from delaying or denying a child's foster care or adoptive placement on the basis of the child's or the prospective parent's race, color, or national origin; US Department of Health & Human Services/Administration for Children & Families
MEPA -IEP Mandate #2 It prohibits these states and entities from denying to any individual the opportunity to become a foster or adoptive parent on the basis of the prospective parent's or the child's race, color, or national origin; and US Department of Health & Human Services/Administration for Children & Families
MEPA -IEP Mandate #3 It requires that, to remain eligible for federal assistance for their child welfare programs, states must diligently recruit foster and adoptive parents who reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the children in the state who need foster and adoptive homes. US Department of Health & Human Services/Administration for Children & Families
Standard Practice Before MEPA-IEP. Racial and ethnic matching policies were based on the widely accepted belief that children have significant needs generated by their immutable racial or ethnic characteristics, as well as by their actual cultural experiences, and further, that children have a right to placements that meet these needs. US Department of Health & Human Services/Administration for Children & Families
Standard Practice Before MEPA-IEP. It was alleged that children raised in racially or ethnically matched families would more easily develop self esteem and a strong racial identity, and that minority children would have the best opportunity to learn the skills needed to cope with the racism they were likely to encounter as they grew up in American society. US Department of Health & Human Services/Administration for Children & Families
Guidelines of MEPA-IEP Although MEPA-IEP does not explicitly incorporate a "bests interests" standard for making placements, the 1997 and 1998 HHS Guidance notes that "the best interests of the child remains the operative standard in foster care and adoptive placements." US Department of Health & Human Services/Administration for Children & Families
Guidelines of MEPA-IEP To be consistent with constitutional "strict scrutiny" standards for any racial or ethnic classifications, as well as with MEPA-IEP, a child's race, color, or national origin cannot be routinely considered as a relevant factor in assessing the child's best interests. US Department of Health & Human Services/Administration for Children & Families
Guidelines of MEPA-IEP Only in narrow and exceptional circumstances arising out of the specific needs of an individual child can these factors lawfully be taken into account. Even when the best interests of an individual child appear to compel consideration of these factors, caseworkers cannot assume that needs based on race, color, or national origin can be met only by a racially or ethnically matched parent. US Department of Health & Human Services/Administration for Children & Families
Guidelines of MEPA-IEP MEPA-IEP also complements the emphasis of the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) on a child's health and safety as the paramount concern in child welfare decisions. US Department of Health & Human Services/Administration for Children & Families
Same-Sex Parenting CWLA affirms that lesbian, gay, and bisexual parents are well suited to raise children as their heterosexual counterparts. According to the US Census (2000) there are approximately 600,000 same-sex couples in the US, and more than 30% of these couples have at least one child. Child Welfare League of America http:/www.cwla.org/programs/culture/glbtqposition.htm.
Same-Sex Parenting “A growing body of scientific evidence demonstrates that children who grow up with one or two parents who are gay or lesbian fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social, and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are heterosexual.” Child Welfare League of America http:/www.cwla.org/programs/culture/glbtqposition.htm.
Same-Sex Parenting Evidence shows that children’s optimal development is influenced more by the nature of the relationships and interactions within the family unit than by its particular structural form. (Perrin, 2002) CWLA articulates a strong position on the issue of nondiscrimination of adoption applicants as outlined in MEPA. Child Welfare League of America http:/www.cwla.org/programs/culture/glbtqposition.htm.
MEPA Goal for recruitment “Provide for the diligent recruitment of potential foster and adoptive families that the reflect the ethnic and racial diversity of children in the state for whom foster and adoptive homes are needed.” US Department of Health & Human Services/Administration for Children & Families
What Can Your County Do: Promote good child welfare practice. Decrease delays in permanence. Implement a comprehensive recruitment plan. Provide training for workers.
What Workers Could Do: Make decisions based on sound child welfare practice and in the best interest of the child. If a child has specific or distinctive needs related to race or ethnicity that require consideration, address those needs as soon as the child comes into care. Consider permanence from the first contact with the child.
What Workers Could Do: Review state law and agency policy and ask for clarification. Document the reasons for decisions. Be honest with prospective adoption and foster parents and treat them with respect. Be honest with the child, if they are of an age that they could understand and converse with the worker about placement.
How can MEPA be applied? Devon was removed from his mother’s care birth. Birth parents are African American, foster parents are Caucasian and live in an upscale neighborhood 40 miles from the birth parents neighborhood. Devon has multiple medical issues and was released from the hospital with six different prescription medicines that had to be administered every 24 hours. Foster parents bring Devon to visit on a weekly basis and birth mother confirms visits but shows up about 50% of the time. The birth father does not want to visit, and this is the 22-year-old mother’s 5 th child. Worker is hesitant about the ability of the foster parents ability to connect the child with culture and the lack of culture connections in the foster parent’s community. Social worker writes the report very biased against the current foster parents and looks for other placements.
MEPA Vignettes How do you apply what you have learned?