Roth Supports Legislation to Help Foster-Care Teens
Legislation a Tribute to Late Senator John Chafee
WASHINGTON -- During Senate passage of H.R. 1802 today, Senate Finance Committee Chairman William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE) urged his colleagues to support the Foster Care Independence Bill of 1999, legislation that would assist teenage foster children.
• The legislation doubles Federal funding available to the States for the foster care independent living program which helps children make the transition from foster care to self-sufficiency, from $70 million to $140 million per year.
• The bill expands this program to provide assistance to former foster children between 18 and 21 by helping them with further education, career planning, or job training.
• These programs also offer personal support through mentors, as well as financial assistance and housing.
• This bill also encourages, but does not require, States to provide Medicaid to young adults who have left foster care.
•The bill increases to $10,000 dollars the amount foster children may save and still be eligible for foster care.
Roth submitted the following statement to the record:
"Mr. President, I rise in support of the bill now before the Senate, the "Foster Care Independence Act of 1999.
"Before I describe this bill, let me point out that this measure is a tribute to the late Senator John Chafee. This legislation was Senator Chafee's last child welfare initiative in the Finance Committee. As members know, the well being of the nation's youth, particularly the most disadvantaged, was very important to John.
"This legislation will provide important assistance to the nation's foster care children. Each year about 20,000 teenagers must leave foster care because they have reached the age of 18. They are then left to their own devices, to make a life for themselves, often with no one to rely on for emotional and financial support. Not surprisingly, these young people are more likely to quit school, be unemployed, have children out of wedlock, and end up on welfare or in jail.
"With this bill, we show that this country has not forgotten these young people. As parents, we do certainly not cut off our children at 18. Indeed, children in foster care have more need than most for a helping hand if they are to succeed in adulthood. It is simply common sense and good policy to make a small investment to ensure that these young people become productive taxpaying citizens who can make contributions to society.
"The Foster Care Independence Act doubles the money available to the States for the independent living program, from $70 million to $140 million per year. This program helps young people make the transition from foster care to self-sufficiency. The bill expands the program by providing former foster children between 18 and 21 assistance in preparing for further education, planning a career, or training for a job. These programs also offer personal support through mentors, as well as financial assistance and housing.
"This bill encourages, but does not require, States to provide Medicaid to young adults who have left foster care. The bill also increases the amount foster children may save and still be eligible for foster care. Such savings will help prepare these young people for the day when they will be on their own.
"Lastly, the bill includes a number of reforms that will reduce fraud in the Supplemental Security Income program. The SSI program is on GAO's list of high risk programs.
"Mr. President, a childhood spent in foster care is a big enough challenge. Let us help these children find a brighter future. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation in the memory of John Chafee."
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