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Congresswoman Karen Bass

Representing the 37th District of California

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

March 22, 2017 Press Release

“The purpose of the meeting, which I think we made very clear, was to answer his question about what our community has to lose,” Rep. Bass said after the meeting. “It’s his budget, it’s his policy, it’s his rhetoric; all of these factors demonstrate what we stand to lose and in some cases, what we’ve already begun to lose in the first fifty days of his administration.”

March 17, 2017 Press Release

March 9, 2017 Press Release

“Our child welfare system is designed to protect children from abusive and neglectful parents. The system should never be used as a deterrent or a punishment for anyone, whether they are Americans or not,” said Rep. Bass. “To consider using the threat of detainment of a child as a deterrent to parents outside of our borders is not only irresponsible and inadequate but immoral and inhumane.

November 30, 2016 In The News

Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted to pass a bipartisan bill that allows the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to continue funding the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH). Rep. Karen Bass, a cosponsor of the bill, made the following statement prior to its passage on the House Floor.

July 15, 2016 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) and Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) introduced the “National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Act,” legislation that would improve how adoptions are conducted in the United States, including improving home study standards through the creation of a national standard and registry. This bill would create greater uniformity between states and ensure that the needs of children are put first no matter where they live. 

June 16, 2016 Press Release

Rep. Bass Statement Applauding Introduction of "Family First Prevention Services Act"

WASHINGTON--Today, Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.) issued the following statement in support of the introduction of "Family First Prevention Services Act": 

May 24, 2016 In The News

100 FORMER FOSTER YOUTH TO SHADOW HOMETOWN MEMBERS OF CONGRESS FOR 5TH ANNUAL SHADOW DAY

WASHINGTON – Capitol Hill hallways will be buzzing with blue this week, when 100 former foster youth donning teal sashes to represent National Foster Care Month visit their Members of Congress to learn how bills become laws and share their experiences in the nation’s child welfare system. The event, in its fifth year, is hosted by the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth (CCFY).

May 16, 2016 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth (CCFY) joined more than 65 bipartisan co-sponsors in recognizing May as National Foster Care Month and encouraging Congress to implement policies to improve the lives of children in the foster care system.

May 14, 2016 Press Release

WASHINGTON—During a congressional legislative week focused on several bills addressing the recent epidemic of opioid addiction, Dr. Phil McGraw—television personality, author, psychologist, and host of the popular television show Dr. Phil—addressed more than 20 Members of the House of Representatives about the effects this trend on American families. This timely conversation took place during National Foster Care Month and focused on a potential increase of placements to the foster care system as this epidemic continues to rise.

December 3, 2015 Press Release
Legislation includes Davis-Bass legislation that would ensure educational stability for foster youth