Kaine, Jones introduce bill to support foster children, encourage people to open their homes

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Credit: W.Scott McGill

U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Doug Jones introduced legislation to support children in foster homes and the families that care for them by encouraging more Americans to offer safe, loving homes for foster children.

The Foster Care Tax Credit Act would seek to help the many families who care for children for six months or less who, unlike longer term foster families, are not eligible for tax credit assistance through the Child Tax Credit to cover the actual cost of caring for foster children.

Kaine and Jones’ bill would make sure that families who care for children for shorter time periods are eligible for a refundable tax credit of up to $850 each year. The bill would also direct the federal government to do a better job of reaching out and educating current foster families about the financial benefits already available to them.

“There’s so much work to do to ensure that every child can grow up in a safe and nurturing home. This bill is about helping families with the expenses of supporting foster children. I hope our colleagues will join us to support families who have chosen to provide a loving home for children who need it most,”Kaine said.

“I am grateful to all the foster families in Alabama and across the country who work to provide loving homes and the best care possible for children when they need it most. We need to make it easier for caring families to open their homes to children who are in the foster care system, and this legislation will help ensure that financial costs aren’t a deterrent to families as they decide to become foster parents,” Jones said.

Kaine, a member of the Senate Foster Youth Caucus, and his wife Anne have been longtime advocates for foster children. During his term as Governor, they successfully strengthened permanent family connections for older children in foster care through the “For Keeps” initiative and increased funding to recruit more foster and adoptive parents.

There are more than 400,000 children in foster care nationwide. One quarter of foster care youth are in foster care for less than six months. Because of the emotional and physical trauma many foster children have faced, care can be expensive for parents, and much of it comes out of their own pockets. According to the Congressional Research Service, between 35 and 60 percent of children entering foster care have at least one chronic or acute physical health condition that needs treatment. Additionally, a national study found that 54 percent of children adopted from foster care had special health care needs.

The bill has been endorsed by Child Welfare League of America and Zero to Three.

Kaine has introduced earlier versions of this legislation in previous Congresses.

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