HARRISBURG – State Rep. Louise Bishop, D-Phila., said Gov. Ed Rendell has signed two children and youth bills into law that would protect the rights of foster children and improve the lives of hundreds of children in the Pennsylvania foster care system.
Bishop is chairwoman of the House Children and Youth committee.
“These laws will ensure that foster children have access to routine medical care, have the opportunity to get a quality education and have protection against psychological and physical abuse,” Bishop said. “In addition, the laws allow for the children’s’ family unit to be preserved so that siblings can have the support network they need to successfully thrive in life.”
Act No. 119, authored by state Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Luzerne, is known as the Children in Foster Care Act. It addresses the basic needs that weigh greatly in a child’s quality of life, including the right to live in a safe and healthy home; access to routine medical care; access to a quality education; access to life-skills training and services to ease the transition to adulthood; and freedom from harassment, corporal punishment, unreasonable restraint, and physical, sexual, emotional and other abuse.
Act No. 115, authored by state Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, provides stability for young people in foster care by ensuring that all efforts are made to keep siblings together whenever possible. The new law will require county children and youth agencies to make every possible effort to place siblings together in foster care, unless doing so is contrary to the safety and well-being of any sibling.
Bishop said funding will be available to Pennsylvania to implement changes to the foster care siblings’ law to bring the state into compliance with new federal policies.