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PA Teens in Foster Care Await Outcome of 'Permanency' Bill

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Wednesday, November 2, 2022   

Backers of legislation awaiting Gov. Tom Wolf's signature said it would improve the odds of success for teens transitioning out of foster care.

More than 5,500 children in foster care in Pennsylvania are age 14 or older, and House Bill 1866 outlines the steps county child-welfare agencies must take to help them make a smooth transition to adulthood with support from caregivers or family members.

Kari King, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, said it is important to spell out the details.

"And it really tries to make much clearer what those county offices need to do to better support these youths," King explained. "Some of those provisions are working with the youth on what's called a permanency plan. So, really working with that child to say, you know, 'What are your goals? What do you want to see as kind of the outcome?' "

The bill passed in October with bipartisan support. After the governor signs the measure, it will take effect in 60 days. King added the bill was introduced by state Rep. Karen Boback, R-Luzerne County. It requires counties do more to improve their data collection and document family-finding efforts, increase teens' opportunities for permanency and help them maintain supportive adult connections.

King noted the end goal is to prevent homelessness when a young person ages out of the foster-care system. She emphasized they let policymakers know not having adequate planning and support services to ease the transition often means a poor outcome, which for some, has had lifelong effects.

"Something that we've really raised is that 37% report that they don't have stable housing, and 25% don't have either a GED or a high school diploma," King reported.

King added transition-age youth often struggle as a result of being in foster care, so it is important they have supportive connections, and child-welfare agencies document their own steps and provide the information to the young person in transition to adulthood.

Disclosure: Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children/Kids Count contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Early Childhood Education, Education, and Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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