May is National Foster Care Month

There are about 14,000 children in foster homes in Michigan and about 300 kids who are waiting to find one.

In each case, the goal and most common outcome is for foster youth to be reunited with their families. But sometimes foster kids find a permanent home with foster parents. There is always a need for good foster homes and Michigan offers resources for adults interested in providing safe, nurturing homes.

In the Senate, Republicans are working to improve the lives and outcomes for our foster youth.

Sen. Rick Jones, who is a foster grandparent, has legislation that would ensure the best care for foster children by placing a greater emphasis on sibling placement and visitation with siblings.

If siblings could not be placed together, then a priority of sibling visitations and ongoing interaction would be arranged to ensure a sibling bond. The bill would require frequent visitations between non-custodial, biological parents and their children unless the court determines that the parenting time would be harmful to the child.

“I know the positive impact of keeping siblings together,” Jones said. “A bond between siblings is one of the most cherished parts of a family.”

Foster youth often face disadvantages most others do not. For example, 70 percent of the teens who emancipate from foster care report that they want to attend college, but fewer than 10 percent who graduate from high school ever enroll in college. A growing number of Michigan youth are reaching adult age while in foster care and have no resources to attend college when they age out of the system.

Michigan taxpayers would be able to donate a portion of their tax return to the Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund under a bill introduced by Sen. Peter MacGregor.

The fund provides eligible foster youth with scholarships to assist with tuition, room and board and other costs associated with enrollment. Scholarships are available for students enrolled in Michigan degree-granting colleges and universities.

“My bill would provide the scholarship trust fund with another source of much-needed revenue so more foster youth can attend college,” MacGregor said. “It would also make it easier for residents to show their support by donating a portion of their tax return with a simple checkbox.”

In celebration of National Foster Care Month and foster children through our state, we encourage residents to consider making a difference in the life of a child by becoming a foster parent.