More than 20,000 Hoosier children are in the foster care system. House legislators are working hard to ensure students in foster care better succeed in school and foster parents’ rights are protected.

Proposed legislation would provide a critical step in meeting the needs of Hoosier students in foster care. Currently, nearly 56 percent of children in foster care graduate from high school, and only three percent graduate from college. By having the Department of Education, DCS and the State Board of Education work together on reporting the educational outcomes for youth in foster care, we can find ways to improve Indiana’s graduation rates and provide necessary support to children in the foster care system.

Another proposal would provide foster parents a stronger voice by establishing a foster parent bill of rights. Under this legislation, the Department of Child Services would form a working group of current foster parents, child-placing agencies and other organizations or individuals that have expertise in foster care services. This group would develop and update rights and responsibilities of foster parents. This document would be available to the public online and distributed to current and prospective foster parents. This bill would give foster parents the voice they need to make decisions on the behalf of children placed in their care and hopefully encourage more participation in the foster care system.

As the demand for foster families in Indiana reaches an all-time high, House lawmakers worked to raise awareness and support foster families. The Indiana House of Representatives partnered with the Indiana Association of Resources and Child Advocacy and its Institute for Excellence, a nonprofit organization serving more than 4,600 Hoosier children every day, to host “Bags of Hope”. House lawmakers and staff held a donation drive at the Statehouse and collected over 3,800 items for foster families caring for newborns and infants. Together with IARCA, more than 100 diaper bags were filled to be distributed to local foster families.

To learn more about this partnership and ways to help, visit www.FosterHopeIndiana.org.

To track legislation as it moves to the governor’s desk for consideration as new laws, click here.

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