2000 Jordan Institute
4, No. 3
(Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997) and MEPA (Multiethnic Placement
Act of 1994): Implications for Recruiting Parents
- Understand the law as it relates to race and recruitment
of foster and adoptive parents.
Based on the amendment to MEPA, no county or state agency may routinely
use race, color, or national origin as the basis of placement decision.
However, the law does not prohibit targeted recruitment of foster or
adoptive parents from specific racial or ethnic groups. But "targeted
recruitment cannot be the only vehicle used by a State to identify families
for children in care, or any subset of children in care, e.g., older
or minority children."
- Consider recruiting more parents willing to foster/adopt.In
response to the time frames talked about in ASFA and North Carolina's
own goal of finding a permanent home for every child within one year,
more agencies are finding it beneficial to seek families who are willing
to consider adopting their foster child.
- Be careful how you use culture in assessing foster
and adoptive parents. Agencies
should not use routine cultural assessments or generalizations about
a parent's cultural group in a manner that would circumvent the prohibition
against the routine consideration of race, color, or national origin.
Consideration of a family's preferences and competence with regard to
culture and race is only permissible within the context of individualized
- Offer cultural competency training and support
for parents. Parents
who foster or adopt children of an ethnicity different from their own
may benefit from training that shows them how to help their children
stay in touch with their ethnic and cultural heritage.
- Make it clear to birth parents or
other family members that you cannot honor a request to place a child
with foster or adoptive parents of a particular race or ethnicity. This
is true regardless of whether the child was voluntarily or involuntarily
placed with DSS.
- Ensure that home-finding agencies your
agency contracts with understand that they may not dissuade or otherwise
counsel a potential foster or adoptive parent to withdraw an application
or not pursue foster parenting or adoption, even if he or she has unsatisfactory
cultural competency skills.
"Answers to GAO QUESTIONS Regarding the Multiethnic Placement Act"
to Know More?
to attend "Measure Twice, Cut Once: Using MEPA/IEP to Develop Foster
Family Recruitment and Retention Strategies." Offered by the N.C.
Division of Social Services, Children's Services Section, this three-day
training session teaches you how to plan and implement an effective, inclusive,
and non-discriminatory foster parent recruitment effort in your county.
For more information consult your staff development training calendar.
© 1999 Jordan
Institute for Families