On Wednesday, first-term Congresswoman Rep. Michelle Bachmann testified before the House Ways and Means Committee’s subcommittee on Income and Family Support to explain why foster children need better opportunities in school. A former foster mother, Rep. Bachmann shared her experience about the many challenges foster children face:
[her foster children] had never really known what it felt like to be loved or cared for, let alone received encouragement to do well in school in the hopes of achieving a brighter future. Still worse, they were shuffled from school to school when they changed from one set of foster parents to the next just because their new home was in a different school district than their previous one.
They were uprooted from their daily routine and separated them from their friends and from the teachers who were familiar with their needs. The lack of stability undermined the encouragement they received from foster families, caring teachers, and others truly interested in their well-being.
My husband and I began to realize just how different the educational experiences were for our foster children versus our biological children.
What can be done to improve educational opportunities for foster children? Rep. Bachmann is recommending that an existing federal program for foster children be amended to allow foster kids to use scholarships to attend a school of their guardian’s choice:
The School Choice for Foster Kids Act would allow states to use the school voucher section of the Chafee Program so that foster parents could receive appropriate funds to transport their child to their original public school or to choose a private school.
My bill would not only allow foster children to attend a school best equipped to serve them, but it would also give these children, often for the first time in their lives, the opportunity to belong somewhere regardless of whether their home life changes. It would provide them much-needed stability.