State responsible for kids in its care

Dan+Noyes

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Dan Noyes

We worked this week on prioritizing the family services division portion of the Vermont Department of Children and Families budget, which includes the foster care system and youth in state custody. That includes support and training for foster families, a system that allows them to take an occasional break, and recruitment for adoption.

What about children who are never adopted? Perhaps they enter the system in their teens or have special needs that make it hard to find that perfect match. Seventy youth per year age out of the foster care system. They turn 18 or graduate high school and now are adults. In some situations, depending on the needs of the individual, services can continue to age 26.

Many young adults stay in contact with their foster families and continue that relationship. The continued support these foster families provide these young adults is invaluable. Others get an apartment, move in with friends and get a job.

What is the state’s responsibility to these young adults? What investments should we be making to ensure that they are supported? This could be providing the first and last month’s rent and security deposit on an apartment. It could be help in finding and keeping a job. It could be access to health care, or perhaps even help getting a driver’s license or car to get to a job.

My work is to look where the state is investing and what the outcomes are. Are people better off? One question that I’m struggling with is that in a budget of $135 million is $220,000 enough to support 70 young adults transitioning to adulthood every year?

This is a safety net, and my question is: Is it big enough? What are the outcomes? I still have some work to do before I present language to my colleagues on the House Committee on Human Services but based on my first pass this is not nearly enough funding.

A concern last year was the compensation rate paid to families providing foster care. We need to make sure these rates are adequate to ensure those who provide foster care can make ends meet.
If you want information on becoming a foster parent, visit dcf.vermont.gov/foster.

This week my committee will continue to look at the budget, as well as finishing up looking at the support systems for adults with disabilities. We will start to take testimony on two bills that address needed updates for each. One is H.464, an act relating to the medical review process in the Reach Up program and Postsecondary Education Program eligibility. The other is H.672, an act relating to miscellaneous amendments to the Reach Up program.

At the end of the week the committee will start to develop the make-up of a board to allocate opioid settlement funds.

Please reach out to me at 802-730-71717 or [email protected] vt.us if I can be of assistance with state government.

Dan Noyes, a Democrat from Wolcott, also represents Belvidere, Hyde Park and Johnson in the Vermont House of Representatives.