Monday, July 9, 2007

Key Foster Care Reform Legislation Announced

Senators Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) introduced the Fostering Adoption to Further Student Achievement Act (S. 1488) on May 24. This legislation would enable foster youth adopted after their 13th birthday to remain eligible for the same federal financial aid they would have received if they had remained in foster care. As Senator Coleman explained when he first sponsored the legislation in 2005, “Right now, if a teenager is adopted, he or she can lose out on some or all college financial aid depending on his or her adopted parents' financial situation, but if the teen stays in the system and 'ages-out' to 18 without being adopted, he or she is probably eligible for all available loans and grants given their personal financial situation…. The benefits of family and education should go hand in hand, not stand in opposition to each other. This bill would ensure that foster children don’t have to make an impossible choice between a family or an education.”

NACAC has met many former foster youth who had to make the terrible choice between having a permanent family and pursuing a college education. As a teenager, Sheila lived in foster care with her aunt. She knew that if she remained in foster care, she would receive financial assistance that would enable her to go to college. “I’m smart and very good with money,” Sheila explains. “If my aunt adopted me, I would lose my benefits. I mean adoption is great and everything, but you sacrifice a lot. It is crazy the way the system works.”

Passage of the Fostering Adoption to Further Student Achievement Act would ensure that youth like Sheila do not have to make these heart-wrenching decisions.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

What will happen to people like my friend Amanda who were adopted, and now are struggling (without parental support) to make it through collect on their own?

Will this legislation be retroactive?