Category Archives: Foster Care Laws

2017 BIG CHANGES WE NEED YOUR HELP!

Watch OUR VIDEO! Let’s help our children of this nation.

Foster Kids Need Love Too® is an organization that has the best interest of foster kids of this nation at their heart. As a nation, we obsess over the bringing up of our children. We make sure to provide them with the best quality of education for their mental growth; we provide the best food to our children to give them a healthy lifestyle; we provide them with the best medical facilities; and all this very rightly so, they are our children after all who will take the mantle of running this nation tomorrow, all this is their right and all of this will be provided by any parent worth their salt.

But take a moment here and consider those children who are the same age as your very own kids. Unfortunately for them there is no way to get all the best treatment in the world because they do not have any family that takes care of them and because they are all alone on this planet.

Think of the consequences for such a child. Lost in the world, they could end up on the wrong paths of criminality or abuse. If they make to a mature age, with their past marred with trouble and nothing good, they could end up in a lifelong destructing cycle of crime, of substance abuse and even of violence.

Think for a moment that just because they did not have a person in their life to guide them, these young minds which could have been put to great use of the civilization have gone rotten at the cruel hands of the unforgiving society.

That kid could have been you.   MAKE SURE YOU DONATE NOW!

If not for that person who was there for you when you needed them the most; the person who listened to you and gave you a hand when you found yourself seeking a way out of a mess. At Foster Kids Need Love Too® we want to be that family for the unfortunate and underprivileged kids of our nation who are out there as we speak trying to navigate through the adversities of life, in need of a person to look up to. We love foster kids and we want them to be our family. We want them to be a part of the bright future of our nation and we are determined in our quest to provide such children with food, care, education and above all, love.

Foster Kids Need Love Too® can only achieve this with your help. You can impart a child with a once in a life time fighting chance to turn their life around for better. Don’t you want to be the person to change a child’s future for the good? Don’t you want to be the person to hold the hand of one young child that may not be your own but will reply to your generosity with the impartial love of a child?

Foster Kids Need Love Too® will continue down this path of empathy and love and with your help, we can keep on ‘Drawing Success’.    MAKE SURE YOU DONATE NOW!

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Legislature Approves Foster Care Overhaul

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The California foster care system would be overhauled under a bill passed by the state Legislature. The measure changes the focus of the foster care system in the state..

Democratic Assemblyman Mark Stone authored the bill.

“What this bill does is move the care away from congregate care, group homes, and into more individualized care,” he says.

Stone says children may still be placed in group facilities for short periods of time. But he says they would receive intensive treatment while there. A greater effort will also be made to return children to their families or find them new permanent homes.

Foster parents will also receive more training and support.

The bill includes recommendations from a 2015 Department of Social Services report on reforming the foster care system.

It is awaiting action from the governor.

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It’s Time For All States To Be Serious About Foster Care Reform

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It’s disheartening that the state is still wrangling with implementing reforms to protect children in state custody.

I have been writing about the Olivia Y case since the original federal lawsuit was filed in 2004 on behalf of children in the state’s foster care system.

The original complaint detailed physical and psychological harm suffered by the children while known to, or in the custody of, the Department of Human Services Division of Family and Children’s Services. Citing the state’s own reports, the lawsuit alleged incidents of sexual abuse, unqualified employees, backlogged cases, shortages of safe foster homes and fiscal mismanagement, among other problems.

In 2008, the state entered into a federal settlement agreement, saying DHS would do, among other things: Hire more social workers and increase the number of visits the workers make to each foster child; increase its offerings of educational and therapeutic services for foster parents and children; better monitor children’s physical and mental health when they enter foster care; and establish a 24-hour hotline so people could report abuse, and increase reimbursement rates for foster parents.

The state has never been in compliance with the settlement agreement. Last week, the state admitted it.

Children in the foster care system often have been abused, neglected and victimized. Certainly, no one would want them to be further victimized by a system that is supposed to protect them.

It appears with last week’s admission by the state, and Gov. Phil Bryant’s vow to improve the foster care system, that the state is finally getting serious about the issue. Let’s hope that is the case.

Bryant has agreed to hire an executive director of the Department of Family and Children’s Services and waive state salary parameters for the director and for members of a senior management team. The state has also agreed to hire a national child welfare consulting group, the Public Catalyst Group, to conduct an organizational analysis of the state’s foster care system and recommend whether it should be a free-standing agency, how it should be structured and what the state needs to do to remedy all of its violations of the court-ordered reform plan. The group will also recommend qualified applicants from which the governor will select the agency’s director.

The governor has also agreed to call a special session of the Legislature, if necessary, to support the reorganization of the child welfare system and provide additional appropriations to act on the expert group’s recommendations, if the state agrees to adopt them, according to the updated agreement approved last week.

Bryant was right when he said the state can do better to protect children in the foster care system.

Contact Jimmie E. Gates at (601) 961-7212 or jgates@jackson.gannett.som. Follow @jgatesnews on Twitter.

New Law That Keeps Older Kids In Foster Care Creating Need For Parents

Foster Care Kids Need Love Too

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A new law that just took effect keeps foster children in the system longer to help them transition into adulthood, but it also creates a new problem.

Derik Moss-Clark, 18, said he had a rough childhood.

He had been left alone in hotel rooms, abandoned at his house and even sold drugs in eighth grade to pay the rent.

“I got woke up daily getting abused, beat, burned,” he said.

He has been in and out of the foster system since age nine.

He knows that many kids in similar situations aren’t ready to move out on their own at age 18.

“We want to leave the system, we want to live our own lives, but because of what we’ve been through and the trauma we’ve dealt with we are not necessarily ready,” he said.

That’s why he supports the new law that just took effect January 1. It allows foster children to stay in the system until they’re 21.

Before they’d be forced out at 18, left to deal with the problems of the world on their own. They would get some assistance from the state. This new law allows them to receive more benefits.

But now there’s an even greater need for foster parents.

Nicole Pulcinimason is a representative with Kids Central INC and works closely with foster children.

“The whole state is looking for foster parents to this group of children,” she said.

DCF leaders said taking on this responsibility is more like a mentor role – rather than a parental role.

“We need foster homes and foster parents who are dedicated to these kids, bring them into their home, and help guide them into their decision making,” Pulcinimason said.

Moss-Clark has found a family with his church and his girlfriend’s relatives.

He’s in his second year of college taking businesses administration classes.

“I want to tell everyone that you don’t have to be what your life has been, you can take every day as a challenge, you can be better than what your parents were, better than the people around you, the situations you walked through,” Moss-Clark said.

Derek is excited for the future, but he knows there are other teens just like him who need the same hope and help.

Right now DCF said there are 200 teens who will turn 18 this year. More than 500 are between the age 18 and 21.

Obamacare And Medicaid: Foster Kids May End Up With The Short End Of The Stick

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Foster Care Kids Need Love Too

The Affordable Care Act extends Medicaid coverage to children in foster care until age 26 — but with strict limitations.

Former foster children who have aged out of the foster care system at age 18 will be afforded mandatory extended Medicaid coverage up to age 26 under a provision of the Affordable Care Act (commonly referred to as “Obamacare”) effective in January 2014.This provision is probably what most child advocates would call a strong leap in the right direction thanks to the Obama Administration’s efforts. The issue? In order to receive the extended coverage, these young people must continue residing in the state where they were in foster care.

As it stands now, most young adults are able to remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26. When the provision takes effect, former foster children will receive healthcare coverage from the state until age 26 as well, a stark contrast from the system that is in place now which allows youth who age out of foster care to lose Medicaid coverage at age 18.

According to CNN, child advocates recognize that the provision shows tremendous progress in shaping policies that consider the many perils that former foster children face, but they also know that limiting the extension of the Medicaid age based on relocation could be adverse to the provision’s effectiveness.

A large number of young adults in America relocate at age 18 for college, jobs, or even just a change of scenery after graduating from high school. While youth who are fortunate enough to have parents with insurance will be able to remain on their parents’ insurance if they move to another state, former foster children may lose their coverage if they do the same.

The new portion of the Affordable Care Act does not make it mandatory for states to continue covering former foster care children when they move to another state. However, it also does not prevent states from covering young adults who move outside of the state upon turning 18 if the states so choose.

Child advocates are currently circulating a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at the Department of Health and Human Services in the hopes of revising the provision to implement mandatory health coverage for all former foster youths regardless of whether they relocate to another state.

 

 

 

 

 

Troubling spike in foster children prompts budget shortfalls

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The number of children in foster care in Haywood County is on the rise, a depressing sign for Department of Social Services workers whose first goal is to keep a family together.

“Growing up in foster care or growing up in an institution is no way to grow up,” said Ira Dove, director of the county’s Department of Social Services. Dove presented his case to the Haywood County Board of Commissioners Monday, requesting additional money to pay for the increasing costs of running foster care.

 

The commissioners agreed to give DSS $342,113 to cover a budget shortfall between now and the end of the fiscal year in June brought on by increase in foster kids. The federal government will reimburse the county between 60 percent and 66 percent of that cost.

Despite efforts by the DSS to keep children in the same home as their parents, the number of children in foster care rose 53 percent during a 12 month period. There were 102 kids in foster care in October 2011, and by October last year, there were 156 kids in the program.

Part of the problem is children kept entering foster care last year quicker than they left.

“We didn’t move a lot of kids out of foster care last year,” Dove said.

The number has come back down, with 109 Haywood County children in foster care as of this week, but the spike caused DSS to burn through its budget allotment before the year was up.

Haywood County is not the only county in the state seeing such an increase. Jackson County’s foster care population doubled, and Swain saw similar increases to Haywood.

Dove said he could not name a single correlating cause of the statewide rise in foster children. It is usually a combination of factors, he said.

In most cases, the parents of foster care children have substance abuse and/or mental health problems. In more than 30 percent of cases, the child was physically and/or sexually abused. Nearly half of the time, there is a history of neglect and no stable housing.

Both Haywood County commissioners and Dove indicated that a rise in prescription drug abuse may have influenced the number of cases moving through DSS.

“It appears the foster care population grows and fades with the (popular drug of the day),” said Commissioner Kirk Kirkpatrick.

Some parents with drug addictions end up in prison, leaving children without a guardian. Chairman Mark Swanger postulated that the increase might be a result of concerted efforts by police to crack down on prescription drug abuse in Haywood County.

“It’s ironic the more effective law enforcement is the higher foster care costs we have,” Swanger said.

Dove assured the board that DSS tries every other option before separating a child from their family. The first strategy is having social workers visit the family regularly and work on rectifying issues affecting child safety.

If the child cannot remain with a parent, DSS searches for other family members willing to care for the child. But it can be difficult to track down relatives living outside North Carolina or, in some case, convincing them to take the child.

“Those kids have some pretty significant traumatic issues,” Dove said.

If the in home program is ineffective or willing relatives cannot be found, the child is placed in foster care.

“This is the last resort for us. It’s not where we go first,” Dove said.

Although the department goes through several steps before resorting to foster care, Dove told commissioners that he would not be happy until the program was not needed.

“As long as there is one child in foster care, we can do more. We can do better,” Dove said.

DSS is in need of volunteers willing to take in foster children. To start the process of becoming a foster family, call DSS at 828.452.6620.

Support Safe Housing for All Youth Aging Out of Foster Care

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Imagine a world where your child is forced to leave your home at age 18. You can no longer provide the love, support and roof you worked so hard for throughout your child’s life. On his or her 18th birthday, your child must instantly transition into adulthood with little more than a suitcase of their belongings. Would your child be ready?

This is the reality for too many of the nearly 10,000 children and adolescents who have been removed from their families and placed in the foster care system because of abuse or neglect.  They enter the foster care system in a time of crisis only to be kicked out at age 18, unprepared for the crises to come.

It is unacceptable that in a society where approximately half of all youth live with their parents until age 24, we expect those who have experienced PTSD-inducing childhood trauma to be the ones surviving completely on their own at age 18 – with no family to fall back on when things get rough. And what happens to these youth? Study after study demonstrates that they end up homeless. In its most recent annual survey, the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) estimated that one of every eleven youth from foster care will experience being homeless.

The Mockingbird Society, in collaboration with community partners, foster parents and legislators, is laser focused on reversing the longstanding pattern of Washington discharging youth from foster care into homelessness.  This pattern is not unique to Washington. In fact, it is a national epidemic.  The NAEH has rightly identified stopping foster care systems from this practice as a key strategy for ending youth homelessness in America.

In 2006, Washington established the Foster Care to 21 pilot program thanks to forward-thinking legislators. This program allowed up to 150 youth to remain in foster care to age 21 to pursue their post-secondary education.  The evaluation results are consistent with national research as well as what most parents and grandparents might say: youth who had safe housing and other supports did significantly better than those who were literally on their own.  Not only did they reduce their negative behaviors such as stealing, early parenting, and reliance on public assistance, but they also increased their academic achievement, gained valuable work experience, and began the successful transition to healthy adulthood. In fact, for every Washington tax dollar invested in this service, our community received a return on investment of $1.35.  Ensuring youth have safe housing to utilize as a foundation for achievement makes both fiscal and common sense.

Thanks to the bi-partisan support of our Legislature, we have made great gains ensuring foster youth have the opportunity to remain in foster care to age 21.  Currently, youth who pursue their secondary or post-secondary education are eligible to remain in foster care to age 21.  But certain populations don’t get this support.

Now, we are asking our elected-leaders and community members alike to provide this opportunity to those youth who need it most. Current proposed legislation (Extended Foster Care HB 1302/SB 5405) would extend this support to the remaining youth who are not able, or not yet ready, for the educational track.  This includes youth who have serious medical issues including cognitive or physical disabilities, youth who have significant barriers to employment or academia, and youth who are working part time but still unable to afford full independence.

Earlier this year I testified in favor of HB 1302 with a courageous young man with a seizure disorder which would have qualified him for Extended Foster Care had this legislation been in effect when he turned 18. He modestly said that his condition made things more complicated after leaving care, and that pursuing his education or employment was not a realistic option for him at 18. Soon after his testimony he had a minor seizure, right in the hearing room. Are we really going to kick youth like him out at age 18?

Imagining a world where we cannot provide our children the support they need to be successful, independent adults is a nightmare. The moment the state decides to remove a child from their home, that child becomes our collective responsibility as a community. As parents, our care and support guides our own children safely into young adulthood. Our commitment should be no less for youth in foster care.

I call on legislators and community members alike to fulfill this responsibility and support Extended Foster Care, House Bill 1302 and Senate Bill 5405.

Committee OKs bill seeking foster-care tuition waiver

They were a powerful group. Well-spoken, well-dressed, with compelling arguments that were hard to ignore.

As they stepped to the podium Thursday to address the Senate Education Committee, these young foster-care alumni got results even the slickest Capitol lobbyists would envy.

Following their testimony about the struggles, and the expense, of going from foster-care group homes to college, the Senate panel unanimously approved a bill to waive tuition to the state’s three universities for Arizona foster kids.

The bill establishes a five-year pilot program that supporters hope will more than double the number of Arizona foster youths who attend and graduate from college each year. Nationally, less than 3 percent of youths who “age out” of state foster care get a four-year college degree, compared with 30 percent of Americans.

Chris Spiva, who lived in a group home during high school, is now a Chandler rocket scientist with a master’s degree and, he says, $300,000 in student loans. Spiva, 30, said the term “aging out” of foster care means starting over.

“What that really means is you have to leave everything behind,” Spiva told committee members. “So what do you do? Where do you go?”

The cost of college was a barrier, one of many he had to overcome to stay in school. It was a difficult transition, he said, from the highly structured life of a group home, where there is little independence and even trips to the mall are closely monitored, to the freedom of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott.

“The reason I’m a successful adult today is because I was allowed that time (in college) to learn how to be an adult,” Spiva said.

Under Senate Bill 1208, tuition for Arizona foster youths or former foster youths between 16 and 23 years old would be waived, after federal grants and scholarships are applied.

Legislative analysts estimate the measure would cost universities $133,000 during the five-year program, assuming a 50 percent rise in attendance. According to analysis, based on attendance under a federal education-voucher program for foster youths, 49 students enroll at an Arizona university each year. Nationally, two-thirds of foster kids drop out.

More than 30,000 U.S. teens reach adulthood and leave state custody every year without a permanent home, including about 700 in Arizona.

Paul Blavin, a retired investor, has donated $3 million to scholarships for former foster youth at Northern Arizona University and the University of Michigan. Young people who receive these scholarships, he said, are far more likely to stay in school and graduate. Of the 31 Blavin Scholars, 12 have graduated and seven are on track to finish this spring, he said.

“It’s the best investment I’ve ever made,” Blavin, who is from Scottsdale. “If given the chance, youth aging out of foster care can indeed thrive … and ultimately reverse the tragic cycle.”

Monique Gilliam, 23, came into foster care with her sister when their mother died of a drug overdose. By the time she was 16, Gilliam had been in seven group homes and shelters and five high schools. Still, the gifted student managed to graduate early, in the top 5 percent of her class and with a scholarship she took to community college.

By the time she transferred to Arizona State University, she was working and going to school full time while also looking after her younger sister, who was pregnant.

“I was able to make it through those two years with a lot of support, a lot of student loans and no sleep,” said Gilliam, a social worker with Aid to Adoption of Special Kids, a foster-care and adoption agency in Phoenix.

Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor, D-Phoenix, one of the bill’s sponsors, said foster youths need more than money to get through college. They don’t have the family support most college students enjoy, making it more likely they will drop out.

The bill, which has bipartisan support, is being pushed by Valley Leadership, a leadership-development non-profit. It now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Sen. David Bradley, D-Tucson, who has worked with thousands of foster children during his years as a counselor and administrator with child-welfare agencies, said they can succeed, but adult life is an enormous struggle for most of them.

“I’ve gone to their graduations,” Bradley said. “But I’ve also gone to their funerals and visited them in prison.”

information is cited to The Republic | azcentral.com

DCF unveils ‘Don’t Miss the Signs’ of abuse campaign

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Who should report the suspected abuse of a child in Florida?

Everyone.

The Department of Children and Families has teamed up with sexual-abuse survivor Lauren Book to get that message out to the public through a new multimedia awareness campaign called “Don’t Miss the Signs.”

“We not only have a moral obligation to report child abuse, we have a legal obligation to report child abuse,” DCF Secretary David Wilkins said at a kick-off media event Monday.

In the past, only so-called “professional reporters,” such as doctors and teachers were required to report suspected abuse to the state’s child abuse hotline. But since a sweeping new reporting law went into effect last October, all Florida residents are obligated to make the call if they suspect a child is being abused — including abuse by a parent or primary caregiver as well as a coach, teacher or neighbor.

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The first month the law was enacted, calls to the hotline increased 16 percent. While DCF receives about 300,000 hotline calls each year, Wilkins said thousands of cases still go unreported.

So far, no one has been charged under the new law with a first-degree misdemeanor for knowingly failing to make a report, but he and Book stressed the importance of community members to step up.

“At the end of the day, it’s a call to protect children,” said Book, who, as a teen, was sexually abused for years by her nanny. She plans a second 1,500-mile walk around the state this spring to raise awareness of the problem. “All you are doing is calling someone to come out to investigate. You are saving a life. Kids don’t have to suffer as long as I did.”

The $500,000 multimedia awareness campaign, funded through a $1.5 million appropriation to DCF last year for reporting system improvements, will feature television and radio public service announcements, billboards, posters and brochures describing the signs of abuse as well as a website, DontMissTheSigns.org that includes an online petition pledging to report abuse.

Book, who created the foundation Lauren’s Kids, and developed a kindergarten curriculum intended to prevent childhood sexual abuse, urged state residents to sign the petition and do their part.

“All Floridians need to know the signs and know what to look out for,” Book said. “We need all Floridians to commit their eyes and voices to protect our kids.”

To report abuse call the hotline at 800-962-2873 or file a report at DontMissTheSigns.org

A Bill would ease foster placements

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Jill Johnson of Omaha agreed last fall to take a state ward into her home — a 12-year-old boy she had known since he was a preschooler.

Nebraska Families Collaborative in Omaha sought her out, knowing she had worked with him professionally in the past to resolve his behavioral issues.

When he had to leave his previous foster home because of behavioral issues — it wasn’t safe for him or the family he lived with — Johnson and her husband said the boy could come and live with them.

It was then that the Johnsons found out they had to go through a rigorous licensing process that would delay bringing him into their home by months.

By the time they are approved, at least five months will have gone by, Johnson said.

A state law that went into effect in July has been causing concern among agencies that find foster homes for kids. It has slowed the process for placements of children with families in which at least one adult knows them.

In the 2012 session, senators passed a bill that required licensing of all foster parents who were not related to a child by blood, marriage or adoption.

 

This year, Lincoln Sen. Colby Coash has introduced a bill (LB265) that would allow foster children to access kinship and relative foster care more easily.

The hearing on that bill is scheduled for Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in front of the Health and Human Services Committee.

It exempts kinship and relative homes from the requirement to be licensed, or from certain other requirements. It defines kinship homes as those in which the caretaker has lived with the child or has had significant contact with the child.

“It would really allow us more flexibility with placing kids with people that they know,” said Jewel Schifferns, kinship care services manager with Nebraska Families Collaborative.

At a time when there is a shortage of foster homes in the state, the agency has seen a significant decline in kinship placements since July.

On July 1, the agency had 115 foster homes with kids who knew the caretaker before placement, she said. Since then, 26 of the homes have been licensed, 17 are ineligible and 14 still are working on licensing.

The remaining are no longer caring for foster children.

As a result, Nebraska Families Collaborative has been placing more kids with foster parents the children don’t know, she said.

Dave Newell, president and CEO of Nebraska Families Collaborative, said licensing takes a lot of time.

When children are removed from their parents, it is the least traumatic if they can go stay with someone they know.

“That’s far less scary for them than going to somebody that they don’t know,” Newell said. “And we really lost that flexibility when the law changed.”

The intent of the law, to raise the quality of foster homes, was good, Newell said, and Nebraska Families Collaborative supports licensing homes.

But there have been some problems with it.

With licensing, there is somewhat of a built-in bias against low-income families who must have a certain amount of square footage per person in the home, for example.

There also have been cases in which four siblings, for example, two of whom have one father and two have another, cannot all be placed with a paternal relative. That forces the agency to place all four together in “stranger care” or split up the siblings, Schifferns said.

The rules could be more flexible on things that don’t affect the safety of the child, Newell said.

With Coash’s LB265, homes still would have to be approved by HHS, with a background check and a home study.

The homes could pursue licensing and would have the assistance of HHS to do so.

For relative homes pursuing licensure, requirements that don’t affect the safety of the child may be waived.