NEWS: Foster Youth System Reform Legislation Passes Final Committee of Referral in the Alaska House

Rep. Les Gara

House Bill 27 Will Help Ensure More Foster Youth Have a Loving Home

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 13, 2015

JUNEAU – Today, the House Judiciary Committee passed out House Bill 27 sponsored by Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage).  The bill makes significant reforms to the foster youth system in Alaska and includes provisions intended to increase the number of available foster parents.

“Because of circumstances beyond their control foster youth are vulnerable and often don’t have the same advantages as youth with a stable home life,” said Rep. Gara.  “Foster youth deserve a loving home but because of flaws in the overworked system many youth end up homeless.  I want to thank the members of the Judiciary Committee for their positive reaction to the bill.”

40 percent of the foster youth in Alaska end up homeless or couch surfing and 24 percent end up in jail.  These statistics are alarming and point to the need for reform of the current foster care system in Alaska.  HB 27 is supported by several organizations including the First Focus Campaign for Children, the Alaska Children’s Trust, and Facing Foster Care in Alaska.

“HB 27 ensures foster youth have the opportunity to move quickly out of the system and avoid the damage of repeated foster home moves,” said Facing Foster Care in Alaska Executive Director Amanda Metivier.  She is a former foster youth and has been a driving force in Alaska’s foster care reform effort for many years.

HB 27 does several things, including adding foster parent recruitment to the duties of the Office of Children’s Services and requiring OCS to continue looking for a home or legal guardian until the foster youth is 21.  Currently, OCS is only required to look for a home or guardian until the age of 18.

HB 27 is now in the House Rules Committee awaiting scheduling for a vote on the House Floor.

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