Yesterday the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth and the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute held a roundtable discussion on foster care and adoption legislative and policy priorities for the 113th Congress. Representative Karen Bass (D-CA) started off the discussion describing two priorities: 1) To convince the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to ensure youth in foster care will be eligible for Medicaid coverage up to age 26 even when moving from state to state, and 2) Passing legislation that will provide training for child welfare workers on issues involving sex trafficking of youth in foster care.
Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) spoke about her passion for adoption and her interest in pursuing initiatives to improve adoption policies. She was followed by Representative Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) who spoke about improving education opportunities for children in foster care and opening the door to adoptions of children in Russia. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) focused on family finding programs, especially the successful Wendy’s Wonderful Kids initiative, and the need to expand such family finding efforts
to more areas around the country.
Last Saturday the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth held a listening and learning tour session in Broward and Miami-Dade counties in Florida. The purpose of the session was to gain a better understanding of Florida’s state and local child welfare system.
Florida’s child welfare system was redesigned in 2001 to reflect a community-based care model. The new community-based care system combines the outsourcing of foster care and related services to private agencies to promote a sense of increased local community ownership of service delivery and design. Under the new initiative, Florida’s Department of Children and Families negotiates and contracts with local non-profit agencies to provide services to children, who have been abused, neglected and/or abandoned in their community. All of Florida’s 67 counties participate and operate under this model, which is designed to increase accountability, resource development and system performance.
The bipartisan Caucus was formed last year to create an ongoing discussion among Members of the House, who are interested in improving policies that affect the lives of youth and families involved with the foster care system. The Caucus tasked themselves with a national “listening tour” to gain insight into the challenges and barriers that exist around safety, permanency, well-being, education, and youth and family engagement. The Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth has over forty Congressional representatives and is chaired by Representatives Tom Marino (R-PA), Karen Bass (D-CA), Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN).