Massachusetts is looking to pass legislation that would significantly impact its foster care system. According to a local news article, one bill would require that any and all family members be searched for as a means of placement for a child BEFORE the child enters the foster care system. This would hopefully reduce the number of children in the system.
This bill would be very beneficial to both the system and the children involved in it. Children fare better when living with (safe) relatives than when placed with strangers. Additionally, fewer children placed in the foster care system would relieve the current foster parent shortage.
The bill is also focusing on the health and well-being of the child. it wants to give the child a say in where they are placed. Additionally, the child would be evaluated by a full clinical team, so everyone has the most information possible, which would help give the child a greater opportunity for success.
State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier also is focusing her time on two other bills. She is advocating for a foster parent’s bill of rights and a foster care review commission. The bill of rights gives the family the most information possible to help foster the most successful outcomes through fewer family changes for a child and increase the likelihood of a child finding permanency with a foster family. Also, the review commission would bring outside sources to review the foster care agency, rather than reviews being completed internally. Having an outside agency come in will give a new approach and outlook, and encourage innovations and reforms.
Foster care in Massachusetts, as evidenced by these bills, seemingly would provide the children and families better, stable opportunities.