A proposal from the governor’s office may save Pennsylvania nearly $4.5 million by fully implementing a federal Act that promotes adoption and improves outcomes for foster youth. The Fostering Connections and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 provides federal funding for states that comply with its various programs, which largely center on financial support for adoptive families and extending foster care for youth who need it.
As of March 2010, the Department of Welfare reported that 15,920 children were in foster care. Joan Benso, President and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, says that currently, adoptive families only receive financial support from the state until the child turns 18.
“The most important and largest impact this proposal would have is that it would extend the subsidies for guardianship and the subsidies for adoption to age 21, so they can create a permanent home for children in foster care,” Benso said.
She said the plan will also expand the requirements for remaining in foster care. Currently, the continuation of foster care is extended only to those who are enrolled in post-secondary education or receiving medical care. Under the plan, this criteria would include youth who are enrolled in job training or working at least 80 hours a month. Full implementation of the plan would also allow youth who voluntarily leave foster care to re-enter the system, which Benso says is an important reassurance for young adults who find themselves with no place to turn.
“Children don’t stop being children and needing their parents when they’re 18 years old," Benso said. “Foster care children often find that they have no resources, not only financial, but emotional.”
By implementing all of the act’s initiatives, the Corbett Administration hopes to save state funds and receive millions of dollars in federal funding for the next fiscal year.