Also on Wednesday, the Senate committee heard two bills i authored to encourage adoption I authored, including one I am working on with Representative Barb Dittrich of Oconomowoc.
Changing homes is very traumatic for kids. They lose the brief stability they had, often switch schools, and need to learn a new daily routine. Foster parents should have standing in courts when determining a change in placements for kids who have been part of their family for more than six months.
Senate Bill 532 allows foster parents to be a party in a proceeding in a change in placement case for children who have been with the foster parent for over 6 months. On average, foster kids go through 2.5 changes in placement. According to the Department of Public Instruction, 34% of 17 and 18-year-olds in the child welfare system experience five or more school changes. Students lost 4-6 months of academic progress with each change.
Senate Bill 533 will expand eligibility for adoption assistance to include children over seven years old or with one sibling. Under current law, families are eligible for adoption assistance for a child over 10 years of age or with a sibling group of three or more. This change will help more foster youth find permanency with an adoptive family.
This bill will help more foster youth find permanency, keep siblings together, and aid adoptive families. Too many Wisconsin kids are aging out of care. As a state, we need to do more to help kids find permanency. This bill helps adoptive parents to take on complex adoptions for our kids who need loving homes.