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Agency, Senator Team Up to Help Foster Care Young Adults In Need

In a previous article on this website, entitled When is a Florida Foster Child Not a Foster Child?, we answered that question with a simple response: When the foster child is a young adult, is disabled and is in need of care. For foster abuse attorneys and lawyers who advocate for victims of neglect and oversight, the argument long has been that Florida’s disabled foster “children” aged 18 to 22 are not foster kids in the eyes of the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

Those children are caught in a catch-22. Officials at the Agency for Persons with Disabilities have believed the Department of Children and Families or Medicaid are responsible for paying for the extended care of disabled individuals in foster care. DCF and others felt ADP should be footing the bill.

With the issue getting nowhere, finally advocates and legislators stepped up.

Working together, ADP director Barbara Palmer and state Sen. Nancy Detert finally agreed fixed some legal language in a 2013 law. As a result, those Florida foster residents aged 18 to 22 who opt to stay in care will soon be able to do so. The bill will be picked up by the state.

The fix was to a law Florida’s legislators believe they had remedied with the 2013. It ensured disable foster persons were allowed to stay in state care until they reached age 22.

The problem that soon became clear was that the law provided no guidance about whether the Agency for Persons with Disabilities or the Department of Children and Families would cover the cost of care.

It’s no small distinction. Care for such people often goes far beyond what even the best trained foster parent can deliver. Care may require specialized services, the involvement of a trained professional, even greater oversight – all of which can leave foster parents or others scrambling.

“(The First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee) said that children who are abused, neglected or abandoned are not to be penalized just because they’re foster-care children and not receive the same type of services that all other children with disabilities would receive,” Paolo Annino told News Service of Florida. The attorney heads the Children’s Advocacy Center at the Florida State University College of Law, is representing one disabled foster child.

We applaud director Barbara Palmer and Sen. Nancy Detert for shepherding this process through. It’s often those in foster care who lack any voice in the process. It’s rewarding to see others support their needs.

Read the latest on the story here.

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