News & Events
City of Philadelphia Celebrates National Adoption Month

Officials Announce New Policy that Allows 30,000 Government Employees to Become Adoptive Parents

(Philadelphia, PA) -- Today, in recognition of National Adoption Month, Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Alba Martinez and City Solicitor Nelson A. Diaz held a press conference in the lobby of the Municipal Services Building (MSB), 1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd., to call attention to the need for caring individuals to come forward and provide permanent homes to the more than 100 children currently awaiting adoption in Philadelphia’s child welfare system with no identified adoptive resource.  The event also marked a ground-breaking interpretation of the city’s Home Rule Charter that allows city employees to serve as foster parents to Philadelphia’s children in waiting.

“Children need parents to teach them life skills, give them guidance during the turbulent adolescent years, and most importantly give them a stable home life that allows them to thrive and reach their full potential,” stated Commissioner Martinez. “While the City of Philadelphia does the best that it can to provide a sense of security for these children, it cannot provide the intimate bond that a loving parent can. We need more people to come forward and open their hearts and homes to these kids.”

In the past year DHS has facilitated over 600 successful adoptions; however, identifying quality candidates is often challenging. Therefore, Commissioner Martinez, requested a new interpretation of the Home Rule Charter by City Solicitor Nelson Diaz to determine if city employees would be eligible foster parent resources

Today, City Solicitor Diaz formally announced that all city government employees may serve as foster or adoptive parents in the same capacity as other citizens who apply through foster care agencies.

“This is an interpretation was spurred by a progressive mayor and a forward-thinking commissioner,” said Nelson Diaz. “It is a decision that is long overdue. Now many more children have a chance of finding a safe place that they can call home.” 

Since the inception of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter in 1951, government employees were not permitted to serve as foster or adoptive parents to dependent children who are in the care of the city. This limitation resulted in the disqualification of nearly 30,000 individuals who could have potentially provided safe and healthy homes for Philadelphia’s foster children. 

Previous interpretations of the Charter did not permit government employees to adopt because of potential conflicts of interest, such as government employees acquiring personal gain through the adoption arrangement or the ease of access to confidential case files. The new interpretation comes with it policies and protocols which address such concerns.

Foster or potential adoptive parents are eligible to receive reimbursement to cover the costs of care for a child, also known as a non-entitlement benefit. Reimbursement is provided by DHS from a combination of federal, state and local funds. It covers the “allowable costs” of providing the foster child with food, clothing, shelter, child care, personal incidentals, reasonable travel costs for the child to visit his or her family, and school supplies.

Additionally, under the new DHS protocol, the city recognizes the professional relationships that exist between many of the Department’s employees and its provider agencies and access these entities have to confidential case information.  Therefore, DHS employees may only serve as kinship givers for children committed to DHS. DHS employees may, however, also serve as foster parents for children committed to other counties who are in the care of an agency that contracts with DHS.

“DHS social workers and its provider agency have done an excellent job in finding homes for so many of the children in waiting. However, we are not naïve enough to think that because we are making headway we can rest on our past successes,” explained Martinez. “On the contrary, we are energized by our new found abilities to tap into the municipal employee population. This monumental decision is cause to celebrate.”

As part of the celebration of the opinion, and in honor of National Adoption Month, a ceremonial cake-cutting took place to commemorate the city’s hundreds of adoptive families and to stress the need to continue the push to find permanent, loving homes for all Philadelphia’s children. 

The Philadelphia Department of Human Services is the City agency charged with protecting children from abuse, neglect, and delinquency; ensuring their safety and permanency in nurturing home environments; and strengthening and preserving families by enhancing community-based prevention services. In partnership with community organizations, DHS provides services to strengthen the overall well being of Philadelphia children, youth, and families using a customer focused approach that is responsive to evolving community needs.