The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act
Throughout 2013, multiple members of Congress proposed multiple ways to improve foster care with their own individual bills. In an effort to work together, Congress agreed to make one new bill, combining parts of the old ones. H.R. 4980, sponsored by Representative Dave Camp, has several parts and many important new rules to help foster youth everywhere in the United States. Most importantly, these new rules were a result of conversations with foster youth.
Yep, you heard it: lawmakers heard your voice and are making improvements to the foster care system as a result.
Some important parts of the bill:
- Youth Rights: States are required to provide any youth age 14 or older with a list of their rights, as well as a signed acknowledgement that the youth received the list.
- Prudent Parenting: New requirements for “prudent parenting” standards (this means states will make plans to allow foster parents and group homes, instead of just caseworkers or agencies, to decide whether a youth can participate in age appropriate activities like sports or other extra curricular activities).
- Normalcy: For older youth, the ability to participate in “normal”, age appropriate activities must be discussed at the youth’s case planning meetings; Congress has also given money to pay for these activities starting in 2020.
- Case Planning: Starting at age 14, youth will be given the opportunity to become involved in the development of their case plan and transition plan; youth will also have the option to invite two people of their choice to attend planning meetings.
- Preventing Long Term Foster Care: Discourages the use of Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA) as a permanency option for youth; requires states to provide more evidence to the court that aging out is the best option for older youth in care.
- Documents when exiting care: Youth must be provided a copy of birth certificate, social security card, drivers license or state ID, health insurance and medical records.
- Tracking Disrupted Adoptions: Requires states to track disrupted and dissolved adoptions and guardianships.
- Sex Trafficking Prevention: Requires states to track the sexual exploitation of foster youth and youth who runaway and/or are missing from care; increases training requirements for those who work with youth to identify sex trafficking as it occurs.
- Adoptions: Makes adoptions and guardianships easier for families revising incentives for those families.
Here is a link to the bills text
This bill could not have been possible without the support from both Democrat and Republican leaders in the House and Senate. To see who co-sponsored the bill click here.