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Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, as we recognize May as National Foster Care Month, we should take a minute to think about what foster care means for children in America. We currently have over 408,000 children in our foster care system due to abuse or neglect by their biological families, with 107,000 as eligible for adoption. Every year nearly 28,000 of these children age out of our foster care system with no place to call home. On average, foster children spend over 3 years in the system and around 16 percent languish in the foster care system for over 5 years. These numbers are a stark reminder that we must do more to connect children in our foster care system with a safe, loving, and permanent home.
I have worked with my colleague Senator Grassley on a bipartisan bill that will provide supplemental funds to programs that directly impact children in our foster care system. The Families for Foster Youth Stamp Act will provide additional funding for the Court Improvement Program and the Adoption Opportunities Program by giving an easy option for individuals to pay a few cents more for their postage stamps if they choose to.
By providing a boost in resources to the Court Improvement Program, states can enhance their capacity to serve children in the system, build upon best practices, and improve the quality of representation our children receive. Funds going to the Adoption Opportunities Program will support programs that target improvement in permanency outcomes for youth in foster care through adoption, guardianship, or kinship care. We know that youth who are served by effective programs targeting permanent placement options have shown to be more likely to find a forever family than the national average. No teenager should exit our foster care system alone, facing possible homelessness and without the type of support system that only a family can provide. The Families for Foster Youth Stamp Act provides a unique funding option to supplement programs that make a real and tangible difference in the lives of our most at-risk children.
A number of organizations are supportive of this bill, including the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, Children's Action Network, Children's Advocacy Institute, Child Welfare League of America, First Focus Campaign for Children, Foster Club, National Association of Council for Children, National Children's Alliance, National Council for Adoption, Northwest Adoption Exchange, The Adoption Exchange, and Voice for Adoption.
I would like to recognize Senators Grassley, Landrieu, Cardin, Wyden, and Cochran as original cosponsors of this bill. I look forward to continued progress in developing a more effective child welfare system and ask all of my colleagues to support this important legislation.
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