Congress Voting on Foster Children

I remember in January 1989 one of my former foster dads died of a heart attack and the local paper did a write-up of how he and my foster mom had taken on over 250 kids over the years.

I also remember not having to worry about food, clothing, or shelter for various months out of the year and getting to go shopping for back to school clothes at the store down the street where so many elite met to cruise through the sales.

The store was called Something Special and it was a perfect description of my “no worries” basics I would wear to school.

On Feb. 1st Congress will vote on whether to cut $600 million for assistance to children without parents.

“These children are defenseless against political whims, and this is our last opportunity to prevent Congress from passing this cruel bill,” said Michael Lawley of Care2.com, who is circulating a petition to stop the cuts. “This bill will also cut funding for other programs that children and families depend on, including Medicaid, child support enforcement, and student assistance.”

Programs designed to intervene before at-risk children are forced to enter the foster care system will be nearly eliminated.

“The true cost of these cuts will be felt in the lives of children – especially those who are already the most defenseless,” said Lawley. “This vote will be extremely close and this is the last opportunity to tell your Congressman not to desert America’s children.”

Children sometimes come into foster care and go into therapeutic foster homes for kids who have been severely emotionally damaged by their previous families or are medically fragile. Foster parents can specify the age and sex of children they would like to take care of.

“For me going into foster care was a good idea,” said Joseph Johnson, whose mom did illegal things for money. “And even though I don’t live with my family it has actually helped my relationship with my family.”

There are 100,000 kids between the ages of 16 and 21 in foster care in the U.S.

A lot of foster kids have ambitious aspirations.

“We will continue to open our home to foster children and help them move forward with their lives,” said Barbara Schwartz-Davis, a foster and adoptive mom. Advocacy groups must continue to work to improve children’s lives in foster care, says Garnethi Pettiford, a former foster child who now works for the New York State Citizens’ Coalition for Children.

“Children today continuously face an environment ravaged by crime, parental drug addiction, lack of appropriate health care, and other countless obstacles to healthy growth,” said Pettiford. “I lived this struggle first-hand.”

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