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Church hopes to match kids with foster families

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WAYNESBORO — Sonya Payne remembers her best birthday ever.

It was in 2010, the day she legally adopted her foster daughter Ariel Simone Payne, 16.

Ariel wasn’t the first child that Payne has fostered. In fact, Payne estimates that she’s legally fostered 40 children since 1993, and taken in over 70, even if only temporarily.

“That’s why we call her superwoman,” said Ariel’s adoptive sister Taimonique Payne, 15 and a half years old.

Payne decided to become a foster parent while working with battered women, and seeing the effect it had on both the women and children.

“It was too much,” Payne said. “I told my husband, we have to do something to help these kids.”

She read about her first foster child in the newspaper in 1993 and the rest is history.

Even with families like the Paynes, there are still local children in the foster care system that do not currently have homes and are at risk of aging out of the system, which severely affects their chances of success once they become adults, said Jennifer Eccles, foster parent and member of the mission team at First Baptist Church in Waynesboro. There are 163 kids in foster homes locally, but 14 that don’t have somewhere to call home.

That’s why the church decided to hold a summit about foster care, with a panel of foster care workers, parents and adopted teenagers, to inform the community about the need for more participation in the foster care system.

The summit was Sunday afternoon and about 25 people attended, Eccles said.

“The church feels very strongly that we have a calling to help these kids in our community,” said the mom of six. “They need families.”

One of the main focuses of the summit was on the need for care for older children and children with siblings, specifically, Eccles said. Removing the stigma that older children come with more problems is key.

“This is not about bad behavior,” Eccles said of why children end up in the foster care system. “It’s because of abuse or neglect.”

Both Ariel and Taimonique spoke about being adopted and what they would tell other foster parents if they could.

“Never give up on your adopted kids,” Taimonique said. They may have difficult behavior and difficulty adjusting, but never to give up.

For more information about foster parenting call Jennifer Edson or Heather Hudnall at Shenandoah Valley Social Services at 540-245-5800.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

New Law Aims to Help Students in Foster Care

Foster Care Kids Need Love Too

 

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COLUMBUS — A law signed last week by President Obama is expected to help clear some educational roadblocks for foster children, whose school records often remained closed to child-welfare workers.

The Uninterrupted Scholars Act gives the agencies access to the records by making an exception for child-welfare workers in the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, known as FERPA.

That means child-welfare workers won’t necessarily have to obtain parental consent or wait for court orders to act on school matters. Parents don’t automatically lose their educational rights when an agency has temporary custody of their child.

Local advocates say the change in FERPA should reduce or eliminate some of the snags, delays, and missed days that occur when children come into custody or change schools.

“It was a well-intentioned law, but it had some unintended consequences for foster children who are moving around from school district to school district and often fall behind,” said Scott Britton, assistant director of the Public Children Services Association of Ohio.

Missed school days are a problem for foster parents too, he said, because many can’t miss work while transfers are pending.

“It’s become a real deterrent for foster families in some cases,” he said. “Days would turn into weeks.”

In some cases, Mr. Britton said, Ohio foster children’s school records and report cards were “held hostage” by the former school district if certain fees had not been paid. Waiting for court action and county-issued checks took more time.

Many child-welfare agencies have developed educational-stability programs for foster children.

According to studies of adults in the Midwest who had been in foster care, more than one-third changed schools at least five times as children, and most read at a seventh-grade level after completing 10th or 11th grade.

Among Ohio foster children in the ninth grade, one-fourth passed the math and science proficiency tests and half passed the reading test. Foster children drop out of school at higher rates and are about half as likely to graduate from high school, advocates said.