Michigan House Republicans
During Foster Care Awareness Month, Rep. Schmaltz calls on Legislature to adopt her plan to help foster care children
RELEASE|May 16, 2024

State Rep. Kathy Schmaltz this week supported a resolution adopted by the Michigan House to declare May as Foster Care Awareness Month in the state while reminding other legislators that reforms must be made to help set foster care children up for future success.

Schmaltz, R-Jackson, introduced House Bill 4694 to help young people as they age out of the foster care system. Her plan addresses a problem highlighted by recent reports in the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News about the state’s practice of diverting federal benefits intended for foster children to fund its child welfare program. Schmaltz said the money should go to foster kids.

“We have the power to transform lives by making sure that Michigan’s policies truly support foster children,” Schmaltz said. “Adopting a resolution recognizing Foster Care Awareness Month is fine, but it’s time to move beyond feel-good measures and adopt the necessary reforms to set our foster kids up for success. We have to do more.”

When a child is in the Michigan foster care system, any federal benefits the child receives are collected by the state and used to reimburse the state for the cost of care. This includes income such as Veterans Administration benefits, Supplemental Security Income, and Social Security benefits.

“Our state’s current policies mean that foster care youth often step into adulthood with little to nothing,” Schmaltz said. “It’s no wonder that 33% of young people aging out of foster care in Michigan experience homelessness between the ages of 19 and 21. It’s unacceptable.”

Schmaltz’s plan, House Bill 4694, will set aside a portion of these federal benefits for the child’s future needs. For children aged 14 and 15, at least 40% of these benefits must be set aside; children aged 16 and 17 would have at least 80% set aside; and foster youth aged 18 to 20 would have 100% set aside.

The measure also provides children in foster care with financial literacy training and ensures they are notified about all the federal benefits the state applies for and collects on their behalf.

Since introducing House Bill 4694 last June, Schmaltz has been working hard to see it enacted. Last fall, the Speaker of the House even scheduled it for a vote. Unfortunately, the vote never took place, leaving the bill stalled despite the bipartisan support it has received.

The resolution to declare Foster Care Awareness Month even mentions that the state of Michigan must do more to support foster children and prepare them to live healthy and productive lives.

“It’s our duty to ensure that foster care kids aren’t left to fend for themselves as they transition into adulthood,” Schmaltz said. “I have a common-sense plan that would give them a fair start by securing the benefits meant for their future. Let’s stop playing politics and take a vote on this legislation so we can make a real difference.”


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