CHARLESTON, W.Va. – This week, the Find and Protect Foster Youth Act, legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) passed the U.S. Senate. Specifically, the bill would create a feedback loop between states and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Administration of Children and Families (ACF) to provide better care and information-sharing for missing and runaway foster youth.
“In West Virginia, our children are our future, and we must make certain that our youth in foster care are safe and protected,” Senator Capito said. “This legislation will strengthen the coordination of information sharing between the state and federal level, and improve our ability to quickly locate missing and runaway foster youth. We must do all we can to protect our most vulnerable children and keep them safe, and I’m proud to join with my colleagues to pass this legislation through the Senate.”
States are currently required by law to implement plans to prevent, mitigate, and find cases of missing foster youth, but tens of thousands of foster children have gone missing in the last two decades.
Increasing communication between states and the ACF would allow them to use real-life experiences to inform the assistance they provide to child protective service agencies. The legislation would require ACF to report to Congress on progress being made to find missing foster youth and prevent runaways. In addition, it would establish screenings for children who return to foster care after running away or otherwise being absent to determine if the children were victims of sex trafficking during their absence.
This legislation is endorsed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
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