In recent weeks two bills have been introduced that attempt to assist youth in foster care and while the bills are being introduced late in this Congress they set a marker for future action in the next Congress.

Last week Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) was joined by a group of bipartisan legislators in introducing a bill to expand the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to cover former foster youth.  The credit is a decades old credit that provides incentives to employers who hire certain low income or vulnerable class of workers including veterans, SNAP recipients, and some youth who participate in the summer youth employment program.  CWLA has endorsed the legislation. HR 5947, Improved Employment Outcomes for Foster Youth Act 2016 which is cosponsored by Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA), Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL), Reed (R-NY), and Congressperson Karen Bass (D-CA).

Congressman Danny Davis is also a sponsor of HR 5737 Protecting Foster Youth Resources to Promote Self Sufficiency Act. The bill amends the Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) program to prohibit a state agency serving as representative payee for an eligible individual in foster care under state responsibility from using SSI benefits to reimburse state government costs of Title IV-E when the child is in foster care.  It would also direct states to take certain actions to make sure they determine and apply for benefits on behalf of the child when they are eligible for SSI either as a result of disability or as a survivor.  Funds would have to be provided to the youth in an account.