Legislation expands foster care programs and infant drop boxes

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Members of the Senate and House Health and Welfare committees consider bills Wednesday that would expand the state’s foster care programs and implement Safe Haven infant drop boxes. (Photo credit: Lauren Heffker/LSU Manship School News Service)

Published: May 29, 2019

By: Lauren Heffker

BATON ROUGE — Bills that aim to improve youth foster care programs and implement safe haven infant drop boxes in the state are headed toward final votes in the Louisiana Legislature.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, would establish an extended foster care program for young adults up to age 21.

Louisiana’s current foster care system ages out children when they turn 18.

“Foster care is traumatic,” said a 22-year-old college student who had been in the state’s foster care system for many years.

In an emotional testimony to the House Health and Welfare Committee, she voiced support for the bill.

“I moved around six times. I was even separated from my little sister. I was told that people cared about my well being – but I felt like I was worthless and just another number.”

Under Barrow’s proposed law, foster care would be extended to young adults who are full-time employees, involved in job training and educational classes or who cannot go to school or work due to medical reasons.

The bill previously passed the Senate floor without opposition, and Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who is up for re-election in the fall, has included foster care in his budget proposal.

Barrow’s foster care bill has been sent to the House floor for consideration.

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