WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), along with Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA), today introduced the Find and Protect Foster Youth Act, which would create a feedback loop between states and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration of Children and Families to provide better care and information-sharing for missing and runaway foster youth.
“It is an abomination that thousands of Texas children in foster care are not accounted for, especially when these children are at higher risk of being trafficked,” said Sen. Cornyn. “By increasing coordination between federal agencies and states, we can help ensure vulnerable children remain in a safe home instead of falling through the cracks.”
“Too many of our foster youth face difficult experiences and go missing while in foster care. That’s unacceptable and must change. Making sure our children have a safe place to call home isn’t a partisan issue. I am pleased to partner with Senators Cornyn and Grassley on this bipartisan legislation,” said Sen. Stabenow.
“The number of missing foster youth is deeply disturbing. We have a responsibility to ensure children in our foster care system are kept safe. Our bipartisan proposal will improve communication among relevant state and federal agencies to protect vulnerable children,” Sen. Grassley said.
Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) and Tony Gonzalez (TX-23) will be introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
States are currently required by law to implement plans to prevent, mitigate, and find cases of missing foster youth, but tens of thousands of foster children have gone missing in the last two decades. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services disclosed that more than 2,000 children in its care were reported missing in FY2020 alone.
Increasing communication between states and the Administration of Children and Families’ (ACF) capacity building center would allow them to use real-life experiences to inform the assistance they provide to child protective service agencies. In addition, the legislation would require ACF to report to Congress on progress being made to find missing foster youth and prevent runaways.
This legislation is endorsed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.