Reps. Sewell, Smucker Introduce Reducing Barriers for Relative Foster Parents Act
Washington, D.C. – On Thursday, Reps. Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) introduced the Reducing Barriers for Relative Foster Parents Act, legislation which makes it easier for foster children to be placed in the home of a family member. Children raised by relatives experience increased stability, greater safety and permanency, and better behavioral and mental health outcomes, and the Reducing Barriers for Relative Foster Parents Act encourages states to update their foster systems to promote placements with family members.
“The children in our foster care system already face a mountain of challenges – staying with a family member should not be one of them,” said Rep. Sewell. “The facts show that children are more likely to succeed when they are able to stay with a member of their own family. Here in Congress, we can facilitate the ability of relatives to act as foster parents, and strengthen safety, permanency, and wellbeing for children in need of care. Today’s legislation takes a big step towards making our foster care system more family-friendly.”
“Every child deserves a loving home,” said Rep. Smucker. “In 2015, more than 670,000 American children – and more than 16,000 in Pennsylvania – spent time in foster care. There are countless family members of foster children who are willing and eager to accept these children into their home. We should be making that process easier for family members – not tying them up in bureaucratic red tape that extends the amount of time children spend in foster care. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Rep. Sewell and will work with her to pass this bill out of the House.”
As a Member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources, Rep. Sewell regularly addresses issues relating to the foster care system. This May, Rep. Sewell hosted a foster youth in Congress as part of Foster Youth Shadow Day, a program which gives young people who have interacted with the foster care system the chance to follow a Member of Congress for the day, learning about representative government while sharing their understanding and experiences from foster care with Members.
Rep. Terri A. Sewell (D-AL) is serving her fourth term representing Alabama’s 7th Congressional district. She sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and was recently appointed to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Sewell is a Chief Deputy Whip and serves on the prestigious Steering and Policy Committee of the Democratic Caucus. She is also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and serves as Vice Chair of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus, and Vice Chair of Outreach for the New Democrat Coalition.