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Let’s make foster care stronger

Sen. Charles Grassley leads bipartisan effort to improve program

Childhood can be a time of both promise and joy. These formative years can set a young person on course for a successful life or be an impediment to that goal. Youngsters need a loving home where their development is given careful attention.

When youngsters lack that type of environment – even if that is just a short-term circumstance – they are put at an enormous disadvantage. To avoid that negative consequence, one of the options is placement in a temporary home with a caring family – foster care.

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley has long been a dedicated backer of well-crafted foster care initiatives. The Iowa Republican is the co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth. For more than two decades he has worked hard to make sure the foster care endeavors get the federal support they need and deserve. One of his goals has been to keep young people who need foster care placement in a familiar school environment. He understands that being moved simultaneously to both a new home and new school makes life much more difficult for these youngsters.

Grassley has teamed with three other senators – Patty Murray, D-Washington, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP), Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, and Tina Smith, D-Minnesota – to call upon the U.S. Department of Education to do a better job in supporting foster care school-placement arrangements. This bipartisan group has called attention to a new General Accountability Office report that concludes the bureaucrats at the DOE aren’t doing all that they could to support foster care efforts to achieve appropriate school placements.

“Foster children regularly face greater challenges than their peers,” Grassley said. “Uprooting them from the stability of their schools, friends and teachers is an unnecessary challenge that can be prevented in many circumstances. All children deserve our support during their academic careers. Helping our kids in foster care to stay in the same school when possible is something we can and must do.”

The GAO report recommends that DOE improve its system for making available to states the information and resources that would enable foster care programs to ensure a stable educational environment for students.

The Messenger applauds Grassley and his colleagues for their bipartisan collaboration to make sure that the GAO report gets the attention at DOE that it deserves. Nothing is more important to the long-term well-being of any community than cultivating future generations. Making sure that young folks facing difficult life challenges aren’t overlooked is vitally important. Grassley’s leadership in this regard deserves praise and support.