LINCOLN, NEB. – U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and John Hickenlooper (D-CO.) recently introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure children in pre-placement foster care services have better access to essential supplies like clothing, food, and other necessities. The bill, known as the Foster Care Stabilization Act, would authorize grants to foster care stabilization agencies to provide emergency relief and improve pre-placement services.
“Having already faced significant hardships, foster kids deserve our full support and care. I’m proud to introduce legislation that will help to increase the resources available to kids transitioning into the foster care system to ensure their needs are better met. Thank you to the Foster Care Closet for your dedication to helping children and your collaboration on this important bill,” said Senator Fischer.
“We are so honored to have spent the last two years working with Senator Fischer and her team to capture the work of the Foster CARE Closet and creating a bill that would allow for more foster youth in other areas of the United States be able to experience the same trauma-informed entry into foster care. We believe that the bill that Senator Fischer has introduced will move us towards transforming how children experience their first hours in foster care,” said Leigh Esau, Executive Director of Nebraska Foster Care Closet.
"Children enter foster care with so many needs -- concrete needs like food, clothing, and shelter, as well as more complex needs including mental health and trauma resources. The Foster Care Stabilization Act will enable organizations that support youth in care to meet children's immediate needs and ease their transition into the child welfare system. The Foster and Adoptive Parent Advocacy Center is committed to helping resource parents and kinship caregivers protect and provide for the children placed in their homes, and we are grateful to Senators Deb Fischer and John Hickenlooper for their leadership in supporting youth in foster care,” said Najiba Hlemi, Executive Director of Foster & Adoptive Parent Advocacy Center (FAPAC).
"Lack of access to basic resources like clothing and toiletries often compounds the trauma children and youth experience after removal from family and entry into foster care. Young people should not be forced to access the court process to have these basic needs met. The Foster Care Stabilization Act is a step in the right direction to address this endemic problem,” said Allison Green, Legal Director of the National Association of Counsel for Children.
“The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) applauds Senator Fischer and Senator Hickenlooper for the introduction of the Foster Care Stabilization Act of 2022. These demonstration grants will highlight the urgent need to provide emergency relief to foster youth who often need personal necessities, food, etc. In addition to building support for the Foster Care Stabilization Act of 2022, CWLA will continue to work with Senator Fischer and Senator Hickenlooper on the expansion of this demonstration grant so the foster children throughout the country will have access to these necessities,” said Joe Huang-Racalto, Vice President of Public Policy & Strategic Partnerships
It’s estimated on any given day, there are 3,000 children in foster care in Nebraska. In many circumstances, children entering the foster care system lack basic supplies, such as clothes or other personal necessities.
Foster care stabilization agencies have the expertise and experience to provide direct services to children to address these issues. The agencies are non-profits, including community and faith-based organizations.
The Foster Care Stabilization Act would provide $3 million in HHS demonstration grants that could be used to:
- Hire personnel
- Secure clothing or personal necessities for foster youth
- Purchase food and food preparation equipment for foster youth
- Offer services to prevent and respond to child abuse
- Address any other extraordinary or emergency assistance needed to promote the safety and self-sufficiency of foster youth.
Reps. Don Bacon (NE-02), Karen Bass (CA-37), Jim Langevin (RI-2) and Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) led the introduction of the House companion bill.
Click here to read the text of the bill.