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May 22, 2019

Senators Jones and Kaine Introduce Bill to Support Foster Children and Families

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) have introduced legislation to support children in foster homes and the families that care for them by encouraging more Americans to offer safe, loving homes for foster children. The Foster Care Tax Credit Act  would seek to help the many families who care for children for six months or less who are not eligible for tax credit assistance through the Child Tax Credit to cover the actual cost of caring for foster children.

The bill would make sure that families who care for children for shorter time periods are eligible for a refundable tax credit of up to $850 each year. The bill would also direct the federal government to do a better job of reaching out and educating current foster families about the financial benefits already available to them.

“I am truly grateful to all the foster families in Alabama and across the country who work to provide loving homes and the best care possible for children when they need it most. We need to make it easier for caring families to open their homes to children who are in the foster system, and this legislation will help ensure that financial costs aren’t a deterrent to families as they decide to become foster parents,” Senator Jones said.

“This bill will be a huge help for Alabama families who struggle with the expenses of supporting the foster children they love. We are grateful to Senator Jones and Senator Kaine for introducing this legislation that will help encourage more families to offer safe, loving homes for foster children,” said William “Buddy” Hooper, President of the Alabama Foster and Adoptive Parent Association.

“Babies and toddlers are the largest age group coming into foster care. This legislation will help ensure that families are not limited in their ability to provide loving homes and fill a gap for families who are there for children when they most need welcoming arms,” said Myra Jones-Taylor, Chief Policy Officer of ZERO TO THREE. “As we observe National Foster Care Month, we applaud the bill’s goal of providing financial support for the caring people who open their homes to children placed in foster care.” 

“The Child Welfare League of America supports efforts to make improvements in the tax code in a way that supports families. As part of these improvements we believe that foster families should not be left out. This bill will help address those shortfalls,” said John Sciamanna, Vice President of Public Policy at the Child Welfare League of America.

There are more than 400,000 children in foster care nationwide. One quarter of foster care youth are in foster care for less than six months. Because of the emotional and physical trauma many foster children have faced, care can be expensive for parents, and much of it comes out of their own pockets. According to the Congressional Research Service, between 35 and 60 percent of children entering foster care have at least one chronic or acute physical health condition that needs treatment. Additionally, a national study found that 54 percent of children adopted from foster care had special health care needs.

Text of the legislation can be found here.

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