Senate approves Nofs bills to assist youths

LANSING —Legislation to help improve better outcomes for foster care and other at-risk youths by creating a voluntary program for young adults ages 18 to 21 was approved Thursday by the Michigan Senate, said Sen. Mike Nofs.

Senate Bills 435-440 would create the “Young Adult Voluntary Foster Care Act” which would allow 18-year-olds to choose to remain under certain state care until they turn 21. Nofs’ bill would amend the Guardianship Assistance Act to allow youths in the voluntary program to remain in guardianship until age 21.

“This optional program will help these young people succeed by giving them a stable family or adult connection for three years during an important stage in their life,” said Nofs, R-Battle Creek. “We can help create better outcomes for these young adults through increased educational attainment and guidance. In doing so, the state can improve lives and cut costs to taxpayers by reducing crime, substance abuse, pregnancy and reliance on state assistance programs.”

Through the federal Fostering Connections Act, states can draw federal funding to support a voluntary foster care program for youths age 18-21 if they are either completing high school, enrolled in post-secondary or vocational school, participating in a program designed to remove barriers to employment, employed for at least 80 hours per month, or incapable of doing any of these activities due to a medical condition.

The Senate also approved an amended version of Senate Bill 229, sponsored by Nofs, to establish and maintain a publicly accessible central registry, containing statistical information regarding child fatalities.

“My bill would ensure that a local court official sit on the child fatality review team to ensure necessary communication between agencies,” Nofs said. “To improve the system and prevent tragedies everyone involved must have all the necessary information.”

Senate Bills 229 and 435-440 have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.