LANSING — Today, a three-bill bipartisan package that addresses the needs of foster children in the state of Michigan was concurred in the House. Included in the package led by state Rep. Terry Sabo (D-Muskegon) is his House Bill 5121, which aims to codify certain protections for foster children in an effort to ensure their safety and overall well-being. The package would form the Children’s Assurance of Quality Foster Care Policy, creating what is essentially a foster children’s “bill of rights”.
“Being placed in foster care is already an incredibly difficult situation for any child,” said Sabo. “As legislators we need to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to help make their transition and time in the system as easy on them as possible. My bill codifies some important rights that all children in these situations should be afforded. I would like to thank my Republican colleagues state Reps. Jim Runestead and Pamela Hornberger for their willingness to work with me on this package in a bipartisan manner, and I am hopeful that this legislation will be signed into law before the year’s end.”
Some of the provisions in the package include:
- Placement with relatives and siblings when appropriate.
- Access to advocacy services for children in foster care with disabilities.
- Timely enrollment in school with consistent placement in the same school.
- Access to necessary medical, emotional, psychological, psychiatric and educational evaluations and treatment.
- Access to food, necessities, and shelter including special dietary needs, school supplies, clothing and hygiene products.
- Transition planning that includes housing, workforce preparation, financial education, access to personal documents, information regarding secondary education and postsecondary education, and independent living preparation, as age appropriate.
The package now awaits a signature from Gov. Snyder to become law.