#3: Housing help to keep siblings together
The Imprint is highlighting each of the policy recommendations made this summer by the participants of the Foster Youth Internship Program, a group of 11 former foster youths who have completed congressional internships.
The program is overseen each summer by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. Each of the participants crafted a policy recommendation during their time in Washington, D.C.
Today we highlight the recommendation of Cortez Carey, who recently obtained his master’s degree in social work from Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Establishing a housing fund to help kin and non-relative foster families take the steps necessary to keep more siblings together in foster care.
Despite the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act’s requirement that states work to keep siblings together, there are a multitude of barriers that prevent it from happening. One of them —inadequate room capacity in the homes of caregivers — can be addressed with financial help for making changes to homes or for moving.
In Their Own Words
“At one point in our lives, all three of my siblings were under the same roof in kinship care with our grandmother. …Her heart was bigger than her home, and she could have provided a healthy and happy childhood for us all. I still wonder how close I could have been to my siblings had our relationships been prioritized and our placement together accommodated by the child welfare system during our time in foster care.”
The Imprint’s Take
Carey’s recommendation immediately made us think of the recent tragic death of Ma’Khia Bryant, a teen who was killed by police outside of her foster home. Bryant’s grandmother had been caring for her and her sister, but the siblings were split up and sent into foster care after she was evicted for having too many people living in the apartment. Carey’s own personal reflection in the report tells a similar story.
Seeding a fund states could use to mitigate capacity issues for caregivers that want to keep siblings together is a no-brainer. Carey’s proposal is to pay for it with an increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, or FMAP, which is the rate that dictates how much states receive through Title IV-E. Click here for The Imprint’s handy guide to understanding FMAP, but in a nutshell: all states get at least 50% match, and poorer states receive much more.
As far as we know, Congress has never adjusted the FMAP for one specific purpose, such as housing costs. It has ratcheted up FMAP across the board during tough economic times, such as the Great Recession and the coronavirus pandemic.