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Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth Members Visit Broward, Miami-Dade Counties for Second Stop on Nationwide Listening and Learning Tour
MIAMI – Today, the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth held the second stop of its nationwide listening and learning tour in Broward and Miami-Dade counties to gain a better understanding of Florida’s state and local child welfare system. Hosted by U.S. Reps. Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.) and Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), Caucus co-chair U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) was invited by the Members to learn first-hand how Florida’s system may provide ideas for potential positive federal policy modifications in order to improve outcomes for children in the system.
“I commend the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth for choosing South Florida as a stop on its nationwide tour,” said Congressman Hastings. “As we shed light on the issues facing our child welfare system, it also gives me great pride to bring attention to the countless members of our community working tirelessly to give foster youth a voice.”
“We must do better to protect foster children just as we would our own, and these forums help us gather the necessary input to improve the foster care system,” said Congresswoman Wilson, sponsor of the Rilya Wilson Act in both the Florida state Senate and in Congress.
Florida’s child welfare system was redesigned in 2001 to reflect a community-based care model. The new community-based care system combines the outsourcing of foster care and related services to private agencies to promote a sense of increased local community ownership of service delivery and design. Under the new initiative, Florida’s Department of Children and Families negotiates and contracts with local non-profit agencies to provide services to children who have been abused, neglected and/or abandoned in their community. All of Florida’s 67 counties participate and operate under this model, which is designed to increase accountability, resource development and system performance.
“I’d like to thank my colleagues, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and Congressman Alcee Hastings, for inviting us to their hometowns to learn about the strategies Florida has undertaken to transform its foster care system,” said Rep. Bass. “Our second stop on the listening tour has provided us with an exceptional wealth of knowledge so it is with great hope that the Caucus continues to travel throughout the country learning ways we can positively impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of children.”
Currently there are more than 424,000 youth in the nation's foster care system and approximately 29,500 children age-out or exit the system each year without ever finding a permanent family. Youth who transition out of the foster care system without the security of a long-term living situation are often at a higher risk for unemployment, poor educational outcomes, health issues, early parenthood, long-term dependency on public assistance, increased rates of incarceration and homelessness.