Senator Chuck Grassley said Senate approval last night of a resolution that designated May as National Foster Care Month for the 23rd consecutive year helps to raise awareness about the challenges facing children and families in the foster care system. Nationwide, approximately 420,000 children live in foster care, including about 6,000 children in Iowa. There are more than 2,700 foster parent families in Iowa.
"We need to keep the spotlight on the children and families in the foster-care system," Grassley said. "States need incentives to make improvements, and the effort needs to continue to move more children from what should be a temporary place in the system to permanent, loving homes. Disruptions, uncertainty and constant changes in their surroundings make it harder for children in foster care to succeed in school and access opportunities to learn and grow in positive ways."
Grassley is the lead Republican sponsor of the resolution, which was introduced by Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.
Last year, Grassley and Landrieu founded a Senate Caucus on Foster Youth to focus on those who have recently aged out of the foster care system and lack the support of a family. Previously, they worked together to pass a landmark 2008 overhaul of child welfare law, including new incentives for states to move children from foster care to permanent, adoptive homes. The reform initiative made it easier for children to be adopted by family members, including grandparents, and made all children designated as special needs, which in adoption includes older children, eligible for federal adoption assistance. The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 also established educational and vocational opportunities for youth when they transition out of the foster care system at age 18. Much of this legislation fell within the jurisdiction of the Senate Committee on Finance, where Grassley served as Chairman and Ranking Member during the last decade. He remains a senior member of the committee. He previously sponsored tax incentives to encourage and increase adoptions, as well.
Grassley said that policymakers also should recognize the "selfless contribution of tens of thousands of Americans who provide safe haven and open their loving homes as foster care parents to children in the foster care system. One person at a time, so many foster care parents make a tremendous contribution."