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Promoting Adoption and Legal Guardianship for Children in Foster Care Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the managers of this bill, the gentleman from Washington and the gentleman from Texas, my colleague from, we would say on the floor, the great State of Texas.

This is a very important measure that I have had an opportunity to engage in. A couple of years back--I would say more years than I would like to remember--former Congressman Mike Andrews and myself were cochairs of the Foster Grandparents Program in Houston, and it drew me to the importance of both foster care and adoption.

I have also spent some time with Senator Mary Landrieu, who, as many know, is a very strong advocate of the idea of adoption and legal guardianship for children in foster care.

One of the new phenomenons that we are seeing more and more is the phenomenon of aging out for foster care children; and so I rise today to support H.R. 3205 and compliment the cochairs of the Foster Care Caucus, of which I am a member, Congresswoman Bass and cochair Marino, and really ask my colleagues to support this important initiative. I am very proud to cosponsor this legislation; and as a cochair and founder of the Congressional Childrens Caucus, now almost 20 years, I would like to say I strongly support it.

The more times that we can say something positive about children in a bipartisan way on the floor of the House, the more of a national statement and commitment is seen by those who are in the various venues in our States and county government and city government who work every day to protect our children. Foster care serves our children and families in a temporary placement by providing suitable, permanent living. Most children are placed in foster care temporarily due to parental abuse and neglect.

In Harris County, my county in Texas, 2,388 children were taken into protective custody in 2011. The average number of children in foster care each month in Harris County is 5,300. 2,440 children in Child Protective Service custody were placed in permanent living in Harris County in 2011.

This is the right direction to go. As of September 30, 2012, 1,740 children in the Houston region are still waiting to be adopted; and, on average, children stay in the system for almost 3 years before either being reunited with their families or adopted.

What a wonderful statement to know that there are families or adults that love you. Many times, those adoptions are amongst family members. Many times, the grandparents take the children. Let's thank them, because that was the program I was involved in, to give R and R, rest, to the grandparents who foster care for many, many children.

Frequent moves, different schools, our children need loving care. They need stability. Many times these foster parents provide that kind of stability. Many foster children have been separated not only from their parents, but from their siblings, and this can be very detrimental socially, emotionally, and psychologically.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentlewoman has expired.

Mr. DOGGETT. I yield the gentlewoman an additional 30 seconds.

Ms. JACKSON LEE. So this legislation, which reauthorizes and restructures the Adoption Incentives Grant Program, will help enhance, cultivate, and advance the foster care system by making it a program that is beneficial.

Mr. Speaker, I was not able to come to the floor for H.R. 2083. I also, as a cochair of the Congressional Childrens Caucus, focusing on the abuse of children, want to salute and support the Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act and ask this floor to support both of these initiatives, because when we speak for children, we speak for America.

I hope that we will also see, soon, antibullying and prevention legislation on the floor, Mr. Speaker, to make that public statement.

I thank the gentleman for his yielding, and I want to salute Little Audrey's in Houston for the work they have done for the children in Houston, Texas. Thank you, Alma, very much for the work you have done.


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