Friday, April 27, 2007

Many state welfare agencies keep SSI benefits intended for foster children for themselves??

Letter to the Editor: Stark's foster care bill
San Francisco, April 24, 2007.

Editor -- My friend John Burton correctly points out that we have a moral obligation to assist children in foster care (Open Forum, "Needed -- a safety net," April 8). Unfortunately, we are failing thousands of foster children with disabilities who "age out" of care each year. With no family supports, no nest egg and nowhere to live, many of these children become homeless or incarcerated.

Children with disabilities qualify for federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, yet not every state screens foster children for eligibility. Even worse, in many states welfare agencies view the benefits as a revenue stream and keep the money for themselves.

I applaud Assembly member Noreen Evans for introducing legislation to ensure that all eligible foster children receive SSI. However, more must be done for foster children at the federal level. That is why I have introduced HR1104, requiring all foster children to be screened for SSI eligibility and guaranteeing that eligible children get to keep and save their benefits to use when they turn 18. The former foster children, who lack any family supports, can then use these savings to secure housing, pursue an education or buy a car.



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