With just one hour left to pass legislation over to the House of Representatives for consideration, the Washington State Senate today approved a measure that would expand foster-care availability for children who have turned 18 but are actively involved in a program to help them with future employment.
State Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, the Senate's majority floor leader, worked with the proposal's sponsors and stakeholders to bring the measure before the full Senate for a vote before the 5 p.m. deadline.
"Washington has great options extending foster-care services to those who are 18-years-old and are enrolled in academic programs," said Fain, who serves the 47th Legislative District in South King County. "But the policy missed young people who – for a variety of reasons – aren't quite ready to move into postsecondary education and are stuck in a difficult middle ground because of their age."
"I've discussed this issue a great deal in the past with Auburn Youth Resources, an organization in my home community that does great work to provide youth and their families with emergency support services. By moving this legislation forward we could truly target those who would have been bypassed by having more comprehensive options," Fain explained.
The proposed expansion passed the Senate with unanimous support; a matching companion bill in the House of Representatives was approved overwhelmingly, increasing the likelihood that the change will become law this year.
"This is a great step toward providing opportunities for young people as they are faced with major life decisions. With this support they would have a better chance at a successful transition into adult life," said Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, who serves on the Senate Ways and Means and Human Services and Corrections committees, both of which approved the proposal. "I appreciate Senator Ed Murray, who sponsored the measure, and Sen. Joe Fain's dedication to getting this before the full Senate so we could show our support and move it forward."