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More than 400,000 children are currently part of the US foster care system, while 100,000 children are in need of adoption. How should we respond to these staggering realities?
During a discussion at AEI on Wednesday, Kathy Edin, a self-proclaimed "adoption evangelist" and mother of two adopted daughters, described the unique challenges facing foster care and adoptive parents, but also spoke of the transformational power of fostering and adopting. She portrayed adoption as the beginning of a difficult and wonderful journey for adoptive families.
Through DC127, an initiative that aims to mobilize local churches around this issue, Aaron Graham said he hopes to "reverse the list" in Washington, DC, so that there are more families waiting for children than there are children waiting for families. Jason Weber of the Christian Alliance for Orphans shared stories of similar work being done in Colorado, Florida, and Oklahoma. When it comes to caring for children, Weber explained, we are all dominoes with the ability to tilt in one direction and affect countless others.
Finally, Matt Weidinger of the House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support discussed the impact of federal funding and regulations on foster care and adoption, noting that lawmakers are moving in the right direction but still have much work to do. While not everyone is called or equipped to adopt or to provide foster care, everyone does have a unique role to play in caring for children who lack parental care.
A new initiative is underway in the nation’s capital: DC127 invites volunteers from local congregations to support up to 2,800 children in the district’s foster system. Since 2004, a similar Colorado initiative has seen the number of children waiting to be adopted drop from 677 to less than 300, saving taxpayers an estimated $50,000 per child each year.
What are the public policy costs and benefits associated with foster care and adoption? What moral obligations exist to care for children who lack parental care?
Our panelists will consider promising, on-the-ground interventions and offer recommendations aimed at helping American communities and individuals better support youth who are disconnected from their biological parents.
If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.
Registration and Lunch
Josh Good, AEI
Kathryn Edin, Johns Hopkins University
Aaron Graham, DC127 and The District Church
Jason Weber, Christian Alliance for Orphans
Matt Weidinger, US House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support
Josh Good, AEI
For more information, please contact Tyler Castle at email@example.com, 202.862.5883.
For media inquiries, please contact MediaServices@aei.org, 202.862.5829.
Kathryn Edin is a professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins University, and is widely known for her research on the impact of social welfare and urban poverty on family structure and child wellbeing. She has taught at Rutgers University, the University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern University, and Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Edin is the author of several books examining family structure and well-being in urban communities, including “Making Ends Meet: How Single Mothers Survive Welfare and Low-Wage Work” (Russell Sage foundation, 1997), “Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood before Marriage” (University of California Press, 2011), and “Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City” (University of California Press, 2013).
Josh Good is program manager for AEI's Values & Capitalism Project. He previously spent four years working on a pair of responsible fatherhood and healthy marriage initiatives at ICF International. He also worked on a national faith-based ex-prisoner re-entry project, in partnership with congregations and businesses.
Aaron Graham is the founder and lead pastor of The District Church in Washington, DC, a rapidly growing church committed to engaging and renewing the city. Before coming to DC, Graham served for five years as the pastor of Quincy Street Missional Church in inner-city Boston. He also previously worked as the justice revival director for Sojourners. Recently, Graham launched an initiative called DC127, a network of churches in the DC area seeking to provide loving homes for children in the foster care system.
Jason Weber is a foster and adoptive parent and has long been an advocate for orphan care, foster care, and adoption, helping lead a number of initiatives including the National Foster Care Prayer Vigil and the annual Cry of the Orphan Campaign. He currently serves as the national director of foster care initiatives at the Christian Alliance for Orphans. Weber is the author of “Launching an Orphans Ministry in Your Church” (FamilyLife, 2009) and “Sent: A Field Journal for Understanding, Capturing and Communicating Your Missions Experience” (OrphanCare Resources, 2010).
Matt Weidinger has more than 20 years of experience on Capitol Hill and now serves as majority staff director for the House Committee on Ways & Means. Weidinger has formerly worked as a legislative aide for Rep. Clay Shaw (R-FL) and as manager of government relations for USX Corporation. As Republican staff director for the Subcommittee on Human Resources, Weidinger has focused on issues of child welfare and unemployment, working on noteworthy policies including the 1996 Welfare Reform Law and the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act.