Prepared Floor Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Celebrating Foster Care Month
Wednesday, May 13, 2020
I rise today to recognize May as National Foster Care Month.
In 1988, President Reagan first designated the month of May as a time to celebrate and remember all those in foster care, as well as foster parents, caseworkers and all those who work to improve the lives of those in care.
We’ve made some progress since that time. With legislation such as the Fostering Connections Act of 2008, and the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act of 2011 we’ve provided new investments and services to improve the outcomes for children in the foster care system.
More recently, in 2018, Congress passed the Family First Prevention Services Act.
This legislation changed the way federal reimbursement for foster care works, allowing states to provide services to parents before their kids are placed into foster care, not just after.
It also ensures more kids will be cared for by a family, instead of being placed in a group setting outside the home. Last year, I introduced and Congress passed the Family First Transition Act to help states move to this new system more quickly.
A lot has changed since 1988. But one thing hasn’t changed, and that is the tireless work of one Iowan in particular that I want to recognize today – Linda Faye Herring of Johnson County, Iowa.
Linda starting serving as a foster parent in the 1970s, and over the course of almost 50 years she has fostered over 600 kids.
Over 600 kids in need of a place to call home, even if just for a few days, were welcome at Linda’s home. Just think of how many lives just one person was able to impact by making the decision to be a foster parent.
It’s not just 600, although that number is staggering enough. It’s the birth parents of those children, who due to the help they received from the foster care system, may have been able to treat their substance abuse and turn their lives around and may be a mother and/or father to their children again.
This month honors all of the parents who were able to adopt children that temporarily stayed with Linda.
Linda influences her own family to continue her good work. It’s the example of selfless service which caused five of Linda’s children and three of her grandchildren to also become foster parents.
Foster parents deserve more recognition, more support, and more services – and I will continue to work in the Senate to try and make these goals a reality.
But if you have ever considered becoming a foster parent, I urge you to take the first step and reach out to your local child welfare agency.
Sometimes the numbers can seem overwhelming. There are over 400,000 kids in foster care, some of them sleeping on the floor of their social worker’s office due to the lack of available homes to care for them.
But Linda is proof that just one person can make an incredible impact.
Over the years I have heard from many kids in foster care. I make a special effort to hear directly from them on what they think needs to improve about the system. I always hear the same thing.
They tell me “I want a mom and dad. I want a family” Whether that’s their biological family getting the help that they need to parent their children, or foster and adoptive parents stepping up to the plate, kids belong in families.
All children deserve a safe, loving and permanent home.
Unfortunately, the foster care system has also been impacted by the virus.
Families who were already vulnerable were thrown into unemployment and instability.
Children in temporary foster care placements are remaining there for much longer than expected due to cancelled and delayed court proceedings.
Foster parents, birth parents and children in foster care lost access to peer networks and other vital support services.
Especially impacted are older youth who have aged out of foster care.
Youth in college lost their housing when campuses closed. Those who were training for a career or in the workforce may have lost their jobs as well.
Many of the provisions in the CARES Act will help foster families and youth in care. However, I will continue to work to ensure that needed relief for kids and families is provided.
I ask my colleagues in the Senate to support my resolution marking May as National Foster Care Month to bring awareness to the issues that kids in foster care face, and to honor Linda and all the other foster parents who make a world of difference.