Representatives Hartzler and Kuster Introduce the Permanency for Children Act
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) and Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH) announced Thursday the introduction of bipartisan legislation that would streamline state and federal resources used to facilitate adoptions. The Permanency for Children Act (HR-3092) would connect the voluntary responsible fatherhood registries in 34 states with the Federal Parent Locator Service, providing a broader, more efficient way to locate absent birthfathers during a pending adoption. The bill has been endorsed by The National Council on Adoption.
“A responsible father registry is a voluntary database where birthfathers can proactively assert their parental rights for purposes of custody or adoption. Currently, these databases operate in 34 U.S. states. This legislation would link these registries to the existing Federal Parent Locator Service, thereby increasing the scope of searchable databases to better locate the fathers of children in custody or adoption cases,” said Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, who has been a leading adoption advocate since her arrival in Congress.
“As a former adoption attorney for 25 years, I am proud to support this bipartisan legislation with my colleague Rep. Hartzler,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “A consolidated fatherhood registry will greatly benefit the adoption system and families across the country. Every child deserves to have a safe and stable home to grow up in, and this common sense legislation will make it easier for birthfathers to voluntarily assert their rights as parents by connecting the 34 state Responsible Father Registries with the Federal Parent Locator Service.”
Hartzler and Kuster note that while this legislation helps fathers to proactively ensure their custodial rights to potential children, it also helps facilitate adoptions in a more efficient and thorough manner. Identifying the biological parents of children quickly is paramount in a child custody or adoption case and will allow each child to find their forever home as quickly as possible. A collection of unconnected state databases leaves gaps in the current child welfare system, and this legislation will streamline these existing systems to the best possible long-term outcome for each and every child in America.
“National Council For Adoption is extremely grateful for this important effort, which will protect children by providing a forever home for each child as soon as possible. This legislation will streamline existing systems in order to ensure biological father’s rights as well as offering stability for children and assurance of permanency to adoptive parents,” said Chuck Johnson, President and CEO of the National Council For Adoption.
Specifically, this legislation:
- Streamlines the system for finding putative fathers by allowing a single search by a state agency instead of the current system of 34 state RFR inquiries;
- Continues completely voluntary structure of state RFR, where a father proactively exerts his paternal rights by voluntarily submitting his personal information into the system;
- Maintains all existing protections enshrined in state law for the mother and child in cases of domestic violence and sexual abuse;
- Limits access to existing authorized FPLS users (state agencies, their agents, & certain courts); and
- Requires HHS to study existing RFR to provide suggestions for improving efficiencies and options for providing all fathers, regardless of state, the ability to proactively protect their paternal rights.