Adoption and Foster Care


As a child welfare expert and advocate, Jeff Katz has spent over 25 years working to remove the barriers that prevent children in foster care from being adopted. From 1989 to 1999, he was the Executive Director of Adoption Rhode Island where he successfully led several statewide reform efforts. In 1996, he played a critical role in preventing the “block-granting” of federal adoption assistance and received an Adoption Activist award from the North American Council on Adoptable Children. In 1997, he played an active role in passing the Adoption and Safe Families Act.

In 2004, Jeff led an influential research project at Harvard called Listening to Parents: Overcoming Barriers to the Adoption of Children from Foster Care. The research was the basis for nationwide reform of how public and private child welfare agencies serve prospective adoptive parents.

In 2009, Jeff founded a non-profit organization, Listening to Parents, to work towards the elimination of adoption barriers on a national level. In this ongoing role, he led federal adoption reform efforts, published opinion pieces in the Washington Post and other major outlets, and testified before Congress.

Jeff organized and led a meeting at Harvard University of America’s leading adoption experts to create a white paper on adoption barriers. Recommendations from this paper, Eliminating Barriers to the Adoption of Children from Foster Care, were incorporated in the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (Public Law 113-183), bipartisan federal legislation passed in 2014. 

Jeff Katz with Hillary Clinton at the White House in 1995.

Sample Projects

North Dakota: Led performance audit of adoption and foster care services in the state of North Dakota. Led focus groups of agency staff, adoptive parents, and foster parents. Report to the State Auditor resulted in widespread changes to the adoption and foster care system in North Dakota.

Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition, St. Louis: Keynote speaker and workshop leader.

Another Choice for Black Children, North Carolina: Consulted on statewide advocacy efforts, spoke at conference, conducted trainings for staff and adoptive parents.

State of West Virginia, Department of Health and Human Resources: Annual conference, Keynote speaker.

Obama for President Child Policy Team: Advise candidate and develop position papers on child policy issues.