Audit: Average State Adoption Takes More Than Three Years

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky children spend an average of more
than three years in state custody during the adoption process, according to a report released Thursday.

State adoption officials should try to streamline the system, and provide prospective parents with better assistance in maneuvering what is often a difficult and cumbersome prospect, state Auditor Crit Luallen said. Her office released a report on Kentucky adoptions and presented its findings to a panel that's been meeting on the issue.

"It's taking too long," Luallen said.

There are more than 7,000 children in state custody "on any given day," and about 2,000 are on track to be adopted, Luallen said.

On average, children adopted out of state care find themselves waiting more than three years before their adoption is complete, the report found. That included an average wait of nearly a year before parental rights were terminated and another year waiting for the adoption to be completed.

Children adopted out of state custody are spending an average of three years in foster care before their adoptions, it said.

"Children may not be achieving the established goal of a safe, permanent home as soon as possible considering the amount of time spent in temporary placement," according to the report. "Concurrent planning for adoption needs improvement so that adoptions can be finalized in a shorter amount of time to protect the child."

The national standard, set by the U.S. Department or Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families, calls for 32 percent of adoptions to be finalized within two years, according to the report. In Kentucky, 29.8 percent of adoptions met that standard, the report said.

The report made several recommendations that could shorten the adoption process, including a public awareness campaign to boost the number of adoptions and a toll-free phone service to guide prospective parents through the process.

Luallen also recommended the state join more than 20 others that have created a birth father registry. It would prevent biological fathers from blocking adoptions when they have no role in parenting the child, Luallen said.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved


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