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Foster Care & Adoption

Former foster youth stand with Congressmember Bass and members of Congress on the first Foster Youth Shadow Day.

Sadly, the number of children who exit the foster care system without finding a permanent family has increased over the years by nearly 29,500. The experiences of youth transitioning out of the foster care system place them at a higher risk for unemployment, poor educational outcomes, health issues, early parenthood, long-term dependency on public assistance, increased rates of incarceration, and homelessness.

Key Foster Care Adoption Initiatives & Accomplishments

Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth

The Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth launched protect and promote the welfare of all children in foster care. As founder and co-chair, I work with my colleagues to advocate for and develop transformative legislation overhauling the nation's foster care system as well as serve as a key advocacy arm within government for the needs of foster children all across the country. We've gotten off to a very strong start, organizing meetings and briefings all across the country to bring Democrats and Republicans together around common-sense reforms.

Foster Youth Shadow Day

An important step in building momentum for transformative legislation is advocacy that educates policymakers on the needs of foster youth. In May, we organized the first-ever "Foster Youth Shadow Day,· a bipartisan effort to
allow foster youth to speak directly with policymakers. The day was a great success and helped foster youth understand the inner workings of Congress and share their stories with policymakers.

Nationwide Listening Tour

The first step toward transformative legislation is to learn what's working with our current foster care system and what should be changed. Working with allies
and members of Congress, we traveled around the nation gathering input firsthand from foster care youth and advocates. Through this work we were able to develop proposals that move us closer to our goal of transformative change within our nation's foster care system.

Uninterrupted Scholars Act

Thanks to the concerted effort of youth, advocates, and service providers across the nation, the Uninterrupted Scholars Act (USA) was signed into law by President Obama! USA makes a common sense, no-cost legislative fix that will have a positive impact on hundreds of thousands of foster children across the country. In addition, it is a great example of bipartisan, bicameral cooperation spearheaded by the Foster Youth Caucus in both the House and the Senate.

Before the law was passed, policy unintentionally hinders the educational success, students in foster care by preventing social workers from accessing school records. Child welfare agencies and social workers are then limited in their ability to ensure that the youth are enrolled in school in a timely fashion. Only 49% of foster youth in California finish high school. Those who drop out become more susceptible to incarceration, homelessness, prostitution and a host of other problems. Now that USA is law, it helps to rectify this situation by granting child welfare agencies direct access to school records for youth in care.

Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act

Congressmember Karen Bass re-introduced the Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act this year. This piece of legislation is particularly timely given recent reports that foster youth have been recruited to join sex trafficking rings spreading across the Los Angeles community. County Probation Department data shows a majority of minor human trafficking survivors had some previous involvement with the Department of Children and Family Services. If enacted, this legislation woud improve the child welfare response to trafficking by strengthening the child welfare system's abiity to identify, document and provide services to trafficking survivors and children at risk of exploitation. This is just one of many reasons why we will continue working for transformational change within the nation's foster care system.

Human Trafficking Prevention

Congressmember Bass believes we must do all we can to combat human trafficking, both internationlly and domestically.  In the 112th Congress, she introduced bipartisan Eliminate and Stop Abuse, Frequent Exploitation, and Trafficking in the Internet (E-SAFETI) Taskforce Act. The bill aims to prevent human trafficking facilitated through websites, an unfortunate trend that law enfomement has indicated is on the rise.

More Resources

Related Bills

Foster Youth Independence Act of 2015 (H.R. 3160)

More on Foster Care & Adoption

September 3, 2020 Press Release

"The Trump administration is preparing to deport Pastor Steven Tendo of Uganda who could face harassment, repression, arrest, and even death for advocating for human rights and voting rights. The United States government should allow people facing repression to remain in the United States. They should never have to face deportation."

August 31, 2020 Press Release

Youth enrolled in Medicaid/CHIP have access to oral health care but the utilization of oral care services varies by state and many foster youth fall through the cracks of care because oral health care is often treated as optional coverage. Tooth decay is the most common chronic condition among US children. The Foster Youth Dental Act seeks to improve continuity of oral health care services for current and eligible former foster youth by expanding the age requirement and providing incentives for dental providers to serve eligible youth.

April 16, 2020 Press Release

While the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth and their colleagues in Congress continue to advocate for federal COVID-19 relief for transition-age foster youth, they also encourage Governors to support these young people as they manage their state responses to the pandemic. 

 

Read the letter here or below.

 

April 14, 2020 Press Release

Read the full letter here or below.

March 19, 2020 Press Release

“Foster youth may be particularly vulnerable to financial hardship and food and housing insecurity during this time,” they wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “To address these unique challenges, we respectfully request that you include provisions in the next legislative package addressing COVID-19 to provide temporary assistance for this population, including support for housing, healthcare, nutrition, and other basic needs.”

January 23, 2020 In The News

December 20, 2019 Press Release

Family First Transition Act

November 5, 2019 Press Release

The bill drew on the Family First Transition and Support Act of 2019, which was introduced by the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth in May.