Reps. Smucker & Underwood Introduce Legislation to Improve Adoption Outcomes for Children Impacted by the Opioid Epidemic

March 12, 2021
Press Release

Washington- Today, Rep. Smucker and Rep. Underwood (IL-14) are announcing the introduction of bipartisan legislation, H.R. 1713, to help improve adoption outcomes for children entering the foster care system as a result of parents or guardians struggling to provide a safe home due to substance abuse disorders.

While 2020 caused our nation to focus unprecedented efforts on crushing the COVID-19 pandemic, we also continue to battle the opioid epidemic. For some families, the stress, isolation, and economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic have made the battle with addiction issues more challenging. According to the CDC, the U.S. experienced a twenty percent increase in fatal drug overdoses last year, with drug overdose deaths hitting the highest number ever recorded in the U.S. The spike in drug deaths may result in more children entering the child welfare system.

“As our nation grapples simultaneously with the opioid epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic, children all across the nation have been impacted. Now more than ever, we need to ensure we are doing all we can to support children entering the foster care system or those awaiting adoption. This bipartisan legislation will build upon the successes of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) to continue to identify and meet the needs of children entering the child welfare system as a result of parental substance abuse,” said Rep. Smucker. 

“Each year, thousands of children enter the foster care system from homes with parents suffering from substance use disorder. Despite the growing prevalence of parental substance use disorder as a leading factor in child abuse and neglect, research studying its impact on adoption outcomes remains limited,” said Rep. Underwood. “My bipartisan legislation looks out for foster youth by allowing states to track their outcomes and ensure we have the information we need to make informed policy decisions to best serve them and set them up for success. I’m pleased to join Rep. Smucker in leading this bipartisan legislation in the House.”

This legislation was adopted as an amendment to the Stronger CAPTA Act when it passed the House in the 116th Congress. Rep. Smucker continues to build on his work to reduce barriers and strengthen adoption outcomes.

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