|Posted:||January 8, 2021 07:37 PM|
|From:||Representative Tarah Toohil|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Foster Care and Adoption Tax Credit|
|In the near future, I will be re-introducing legislation to incentivize movement of children from Pennsylvania’s foster care system into permanency. This will help to address the youngest and most vulnerable victims of PA’s opioid crisis - our state’s children. Last session this bill almost made it over the finish line but died in November after passing the Senate Finance Committee on October 6, 2020. We were so close!
While neglect remains the primary reason children enter foster care, from 2015 to 2016, the increase in the number of children who came into foster care as a result of parental drug abuse was far greater than the increases in the 14 other categories, like housing instability, according to data from the federal Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System.
According to DHS reports, more than half (55%) of the 16,000 children placed in Pennsylvania foster care were removed from their family home because of drug use in the home by one or both parents. The foster care system reportedly saw a 12% increase in intake from 2011-2015.
The opioid crisis has placed a tremendous strain on the Commonwealth’s foster care system, and these systems are buckling under the pressure of matching the rapid growth of the epidemic. Though foster families are only legally allowed to house a maximum of 6 children, many homes are exceeding that number. Pennsylvania has experienced a 50% increase in Capacity Waivers from 2014 to 2016.
Pennsylvania’s child welfare agencies across are doing heroic work, but they simply cannot find enough foster families to meet the growing demand. Children often move around among multiple foster homes, increasing their feelings of abandonment, disrupting their education and severing their relationships with relatives, teachers and friends just when they need them most.
My legislation will provide a $1,000 adoption tax credit and a $500 foster care tax credit for families who provide permanency to children in the care of Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services.
Some counties in the Commonwealth have attempted to use an approach called kinship care, where relatives or family friends step in to take care of children in need. Though kinship care helps relieve some of the burden for the child welfare system, it places strain on those relatives and friends physically, emotionally, and financially.
While this bill will not serve as the be-all-end-all for the opioid crisis, it is a specific response that will yield tangible, measurable results. In order to tackle the issues and solve the crisis, we will need dozens more fixes just like this.
Children are the future and, as the saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child.” I invite you to join me by co-sponsoring this vitally important legislation. Thank you for your consideration.
Former HB296 Toohil (2019-2020)
Introduced as HB627