Foster care bill raises concerns
By Tracy Kennedy, Capital News Service 01/28/11"A foster care bill caused confusion among lobbyists and legislators last week in the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee.
Senate Bill 1037, sponsored by Sen. George Barker, D-Alexandria, would eliminate independent living as a permanent goal for foster children over age 16.
“Right now, what you have is ... adolescents who are given a goal of independent living and you don’t have anyone trying to place them into families. Families are very important,” Barker said. “I’ve been a foster parent; my wife and I have had a number of foster children over the years.”
The Virginia Association of Children’s Homes testified against the bill on Friday, saying it would strip older foster children of a right to pursue independent living. Legislators then asked a myriad of questions in an attempt to better understand the issue."
You can read the rest here.
Now, I have to say I have no idea what state Sen. George Barker (Virginia) must be thinking with the introduction of this bill. It makes no sense to me what so ever. Any child, who has not found their “forever family” by the age of 10, is very unlikely to find one ever, let alone at 16. And if I am not mistaken the goal of ALL childrearing is to equip them for the rigors of independent living.
I do not think anyone’s goal should be to not have independent living as a permanency goal. Ok, I’m sorry I am back there…That is just idiotic. There must be some super confusion that is making this bill appear at face value more ignorant than it realy is. Since I have not read the text of the bill itself yet, I am hoping that to be the case. Please GOD, let that be the case.
I was a state ward and living on my own, with 3 college roommates as a 17 year-old High School Senior. Can you imagine that? Living on your own, working and occasionally making it to a high school class or two at 17? I am not the only person who has ever done that, I am sure I wasn’t the last. And personally I don’t believe I was much more prepared for a totally independent life a year later when my foster care allowance stopped coming.
I assure you that a 17 year-old High School Senior in a college town was not always pretty, I made plenty of mistakes, fortunately I was so drunk when I made them I don’t have the burden of remembering many (first hand that is).
Anyhow, rather than focusing on finding “forever families” (seriously, How dumb! ) for foster care kids over 16 we need to focus More on Independent Living Programs, raising the possible age of support of foster kids to at least 21 like they did in California, and not allow minors to live totally on their own unsupervised. That is not asking for much.
Has anyone filled out their children’s college financial aid paper work lately? How long do they count parental income? Until your child is 24 years-old, correct me if I’m wrong. Why does the government want to know what a child’s parent’s income until said child is 24? Because the government has the expectation that parents will support their children at least that long. That’s why.
So tell me why the government thinks it is OK to turn their kids out on the streets high and dry the day they turn 18 when they expect you to support yours until they are 24? Have you ever wondered about that one?
We need more, better and longer term strategies to prepare foster kids for independent living not less. Seriously, I cant stop shaking my head.