Wednesday, March 10, 2010

PFLAG Sponsors Briefing Urging Congress to Open Up More Safe Homes to Foster Youth

Tomorrow, PFLAG National and the Family Equality Council will be sponsoring a Congressional Briefing with Representative Pete Stark’s office entitled Every Child Deserves a Family. For those of you who live in DC, the hearing will be held in the Capitol Building in room H-137, and for those of you who live outside the beltway, the briefing will be streamed live over the internet starting at 1:30 pm. Information on the live streaming will be available on www.stark.house.gov. We would be delighted to have as many PFLAG members as possible view this important event to learn about efforts aimed at opening more homes to foster youth.

Tragically, there are approximately 125,000 foster children waiting to be adopted. With only 50,000 adoptions each year, there is a clear shortage of adoptive parents. The result is that children, especially minority and special needs children, languish in foster care and bounce from placement to placement. The 25,000 youth who never find a permanent family and “age out” of the system each year are more likely than nearly any other group to experience poverty, homelessness, incarceration, early pregnancy or suffer with mental illness or substance abuse.

Despite the need for more adoptive and permanent foster homes, some states have enacted discriminatory bans that prohibit children from being placed with qualified parents due to the parent’s sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. The result is less children being adopted and more children bouncing around the foster care system with no permanency and no security. In some cases these bans have resulted in a grandparent having to go through costly litigation in order to care for their own kin who are in foster care.

The following panel of experts will provide an overview of why this critical issue requires the attention of Congress:

What: Congressional Briefing: Every Child Deserves a Family
Date: Thursday, March 11
Time: 1:30-3:00
Location: H-137

Panelists will include:
  • Nakea Page and Kendra Langley - Foster Care Alumni will discuss their experiences in the child welfare system and “aging out” of the system without a family;
  • Uma Ahluwalia - Director of Montgomery County Maryland’s Department of Health and Human Services will discuss the benefits of opening as many adoptive homes as possible to foster children;
  • Charlotte Patterson - Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia will discuss 30 years of research on LGBT parenting and adoption;
  • Gary Gates - Senior Research Fellow at the Williams Institute will discuss research on the fiscal impact of banning and restricting LGBT adoption and foster parenting;
  • Leslie Cooper - Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU will discuss ongoing litigation at the state level to overturn discriminatory adoption bans;
  • Martin Gill - Foster parent engaged in litigation to be able to adopt two brothers he and his partner have been fostering since 2004.
Should you have any questions about the event, or if you want to learn about ways your chapter can help advocate for passage of the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, please don’t hesitate to contact PFLAG National.

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