1:41 PM EDT
Karen Bass, D-CA 33rd

Ms. BASS of California. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 2883, the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act. As cochair of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Foster Care, I am proud to stand with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in support of this important legislation.

Youth in the child welfare system fight for what so many of us take for granted--a family. In California, my home State, the Nation's largest foster care system in any given year, as many as 100,000 children can be placed in temporary out-of-home care. Foster parents and relatives are the frontline caregivers for children when their parents are unable to care for them.

A pool of dedicated, loving foster parents is critical for our Nation's foster youth as they wait to be reunited with their parents or achieve permanency with a relative caregiver or adoptive family. However, there is a significant shortage of foster parents.

In May, I introduced legislation calling for a study to find out how to best recruit and retain foster parents. This was included in the original House bill reauthorizing title IV-B child welfare programs introduced in August. I'm pleased that the modified bill before us today includes a provision that encourages States to develop and implement a plan to improve the recruitment and retention of high-quality foster family homes.

H.R. 2883 builds on some of the best practices that were shared with me as I've traveled California hearing from youth, child welfare workers, and parents. The bill also appropriately addresses challenges facing the child welfare system by requiring States to address emotional trauma in foster children and to adopt protocols for using and monitoring psychotropic medications.

I am very pleased with the comments of my colleague, Mr. McDermott, who talked about the use of psychotropics, and I would just add that, in too many cases, the children are prescribed multiple medications. And in talking with a number of youth up and down the State of California, one of the things that many youths said to me was, Can you please help me get off the medication.

I would like to thank Ways and Means Chairman Camp, Ranking Member Levin, Human Resources Subcommittee Chair Geoff Davis, and Ranking Member Doggett for their unwavering commitment to our most vulnerable youth.