What to Do in September

Congress gaveled back into session yesterday after a long August recess, though it will only be working for a few more weeks before it breaks again so its members can campaign furiously before the November election. Congress should resist the temptation to use these last few weeks as a proxy for the upcoming election and focus on getting some urgent and common-sense legislation passed.

There's no place better to start than reforming the nation's foster care system. There are approximately 500,000 children in foster care, many of whom have been languishing in the system for years with no chance to exit — remaining in the custody of the state — and deprived of the normalcy all children deserve. The current foster care system can produce some burdensome bureaucratic nightmares for children. Currently, even if a child has been in the care of a relative for years, he or she can be required to get signed permission from a case worker to do everyday activities like stay over at a friend’s house or visit another state on a school field trip.

Congress can open up several avenues for these children to exit foster care with family by federally supporting subsidized guardianship with relatives and by reauthorizing the Adoption Incentives Program. These reforms have enjoyed broad bipartisan support from both houses and are fully paid for by program cost savings and other offsets. The House unanimously passed the Foster Connections to Success Act on suspension calendar in June and tomorrow the Senate Finance Committee is set to mark up the Senate companion bill, the Adoption Incentives and Guardianship Assistance Program, but time is almost up on the 110th Congress to fully pass the reforms.

Children in the nation’s foster care system have waited long enough to have a permanent home. House and Senate leadership on both aisles should ensure that this relatively small piece of legislation is ready for the president’s signature before the country chooses his replacement.


The views expressed in this blog do not represent the views or opinions of Generations United.