Requesting Organizational Support for Protecting Foster Youth to Promote Self-Sufficiency Act
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Last week, the Protecting Foster Youth Resources to Promote Self-Sufficiency Act of 2016 was introduced by Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) and referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. We are seeking organizational support to advance this important bill to protect the Social Security benefits of foster youth. In order to show that the child advocacy and welfare communities recognize the importance of this issue and bill and want Congress to consider it, we are trying to compile as many supportive groups as possible during the recess to generate widespread and bipartisan support once Congress is back in session in September. The Children's Advocacy Institute and the National Association of Counsel for Children support this bill. The more organizations that support, the greater our chances are for seeing action on the bill.
The Protecting Foster Youth Resources to Promote Self-Sufficiency Act of 2016 relates to the Social Security benefits that some foster children receive either because of their own disability or due to the death of a working parent who paid into the system. The bill represents a growing understanding that these benefits should be used as intended by the Social Security Administration in the child's best interests and either preserved for the child's future needs during the difficult transition to adulthood or used for current specialized needs not already provided by the foster care system. Typically, state agencies apply for these benefits without notice to the child or their representative/attorney, automatically appoint themselves as the representative payee for the funds, and then deposit all of the benefits into general state accounts not related to the individual child or his/her needs. None of the assets are preserved for normal expenses the youth will have when they reach the age of majority, oftentimes without the familial supports that other young people can rely on. This bill would help to ensure that these modest Social Security benefits are being used for their intended purposes, that basic due process protections allow the child and their attorney representative to have notice of the application and disbursement of this money, and to help ensure that youth have a better chance to achieve self-sufficiency once they age out of foster care or reach the age of majority.
If your organization supports the bill, please email Jill Hunter-Williams at Jill.Hunter-Williams@mail.house.gov in Danny Davis's office simply stating that “[name of your organization] supports H.R. 5737, the Protecting Foster Youth Resources to Promote Self-Sufficiency Act of 2016”. An email is sufficient; you do not need to send a formal letter of support. Local, state, and national organizations are all encouraged to support. Please also let me know if you cannot support the specific legislation but are supportive of addressing this issue.
For more information about this issue you can access the recent Kojo Nnamde show on NPR highlighting this issue, https://thekojonnamdishow.org/audio/#/shows/2016-06-28/when-poverty-becomes-an-industry/91883/@00:00 or learn about testimony by Daniel Hatcher of the University of Baltimore School of Law as he testified to the Social Security Advisory Board last week:http://www.ssab.gov/Portals/0/Documents/Boardpages/BriefingBooks/2016-07-July/5c%20-%20SAFETY%20NET%20Daniel%20Hatcher.pdf?ver=2016-07-06-150523-103
Read bill H.R.5737.