On May 19, the Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing, “No Place to Grow Up: How to Safely Reduce Reliance on Foster Care Group Homes.” The hearing took place only a few hours after the Annie E. Casey Foundation released a report that found 57,000 (14%) foster youth live in group care situations.
Senators exhibited bipartisan agreement regarding the need to address the detrimental conditions and practices that can occur in congregate care. Senators and witnesses focused on prioritizing family settings for children and preventing abuse and sexual trafficking in the group home system.
“There is a wide consensus that children are best served in a family setting,” said Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR). “The conversation must focus on transforming the old group home model into one that is nimble and flexible – able to meet the needs of each child and family rather than forcing an inappropriate and ineffective one-size-fits-all approach.”
Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), who chairs the Senate’s Foster Care Caucus, chaired the hearing on behalf of Finance Committee Chair Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT). Senator Grassley said group homes “create conditions that make young people vulnerable to homelessness, substance abuse, and poverty.”
Senators Grassley and Wyden promised bipartisan legislation to reform the foster care system in order to reduce reliance on congregate care.
Information, including a recording of the hearing, is at http://www.finance.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/?id=a949dcff-5056-a032-52d1-3bbdd840a2a5