Adoption competent mental health services can make all the difference

This September, a divided Congress is put to the test on whether to act for the most vulnerable among us. The bipartisan Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016 passed the House of Representatives and is just waiting for the Senate. After a decades-long push to make a commitment to the mental health needs of children and families adopted and in foster care, this legislation is a leap forward to ensure much-needed mental health services when children are most at risk. 

There is a growing recognition worldwide that children experiencing traumatic beginnings require specialized mental health services. In the field of adoption, competent mental health emerged to serve foster and adopted children from compromised beginnings wrought with loss, trauma and neglect. When children and their families finally connect with the Center for Adoption Support and Education (CASE), they at last receive support addressing their unique needs. 

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Unfortunately, many families report seeing as many as 10 therapists without adoption competency training. Adoptive parents consistently report their greatest post-adoption support need is mental health services provided by someone who understands adoption. Without access to adoption-competent mental health services, adoptions can and do fail. It’s a constant fight for families in crisis to get the help they need and, as a result, children unnecessarily land back in foster care when less costly interventions could have — would have — made all the difference. 

Mike and Kathleen Dugan, loving parents of 12 children, eight adopted from the Prince George’s County child welfare system, created CASE because they did not want other parents to be told to return their adopted kids to foster care, as they were, but instead to be helped. They are leading a national effort to develop and deliver adoption competency training, to build a national adoption competent mental health workforce, leaving no excuse for families not to have access to competent care.

I have been privileged to participate in discussions with members of Congress and congressional staff about how to improve the outcomes for this population. We know that adoption competent mental health services can make a difference — and now Congress must act on that foundational truth.

From Debbie Riley, CEO, Center for Adoption Support and Education, Burtonsville, Md.


Rolling back food safety rules bad for Americans, bad for businesses

A certain presidential candidate recently suggested that food safety regulations are bad for business (“Trump would roll back food safety regulations,” Sept. 15). 

The UFCW represents 250,000 workers in the food manufacturing, processing and packing industries, and we have seen, firsthand, how food safety regulations protect both workers and consumers. Food safety regulations are also beneficial to businesses, which lose millions and suffer damage to their reputations when their food products are recalled. 

Instead of rolling back food safety regulations and putting hard-working families at risk of foodborne illnesses and even death, let’s focus on strengthening protections for America’s food supply. It’s not only good for workers and consumers, it’s also good for business.

From Marc Perrone, president, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Washington, D.C.