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Posted by Ashley Eure

Today Senator Mary Landrieu and thirteen other Members of Congress introduced the Children in Families First Act of 2013 (CHIFF) into the Senate, with introduction into the House expected in a few weeks.

The introduction of this act is an exciting step forward for American international policy towards orphans, as CHIFF is built on the idea that American law should reflect the fact that children need families, and that institutional care is never an adequate substitute for the care of a family.

Around the world, millions of children are growing up without parental care, often sent to live in institutions. CHIFF aims to realign U.S. foreign assistance to prioritize children growing up in families. It will does this by focusing on protecting children by preserving, reunifying or creating families through kinship, domestic and international adoption; and strengthening procedures to prevent abuse of children without families, all without increasing spending. The goal of CHIFF is to make government smarter, not bigger, by redirecting resources that are currently not being well used in relation to foreign assistance for vulnerable children.

As part of its scope, to achieve these goals CHIFF would establish a bureau in the Department of State that will become the much-needed foreign policy and diplomatic hub on international child welfare. This new Bureau would be tasked with building international capacity to implement effective child welfare systems, with particular focus on family preservation and reunification, and kinship, domestic, and intercountry adoption. It also would streamline, simplify and consolidate responsibility for all processing of intercountry adoption cases by placing these functions under the direction of the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

Visit to learn more about the Children in Families First Act of 2013, and to learn how you can contact your member of Congress to encourage them to support CHIFF.

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