CHN: Hypocrisy Surrounding Foster Care Bill Reversed After Being Called Out

On May 20, the House passed the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Improving Opportunities for Youth in Foster Care Act (H.R. 4058), restoring an important provision that had previously been stripped out.  Prior to being taken up in the House Ways and Means Committee, the provision, which would provide youth aging out of foster care with documents they needed to get started in life, was stripped by Republicans because of its $1 million cost and lack of an offsetting cut. Refusing to provide birth certificates, Social Security cards, health insurance information, medical records, and bank accounts became even more controversial after the Committee went on to pass $310 billion in corporate breaks without paying for them (see May 12 Human Needs Report).  The hypocrisy of the Committee’s actions angered many advocacy groups, who called out Republican members of the Committee for putting the concerns of corporations above those of youth for whom the state has responsibility.  Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) made an agreement with Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) to discuss ways of putting the language back before the floor vote.  The provision was restored in the bill and passed the House intact.
In addition to the documents provision, H.R. 4058 requires states to take important steps to prevent youth in foster care from becoming victims of sex trafficking, as well as to improve data collection and reporting of instances of sex trafficking of children in the foster care system.  A bill that contains similar language around trafficking and also contains language on adoption incentives and child support (S. 1870) was reported out of the Senate Finance Committee last December.  The Senate bill contains similar language on providing birth certificates, Social Security cards, and bank accounts to youth as they age out of the foster care system, though it doesn’t specify the addition of medical records and health insurance information.  The timetable for completing work in the Senate is not certain.

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