Good morning. One of my favorite movie quotes is the Tom Hanks from a league of their own. There's no crying in baseball. I'm a pretty tough old bird. My mother says I'm rough as pigs are, she would say from Cleveland County, but I'm saying in my mind over and over, there is no crying in the senate today, and any tears that will be shared will be with joy. I have some talking points here because I want to explain the bills to you but before I do that, would you let the folks know up here that I think senator Tucker is going to come, and so he would be needed to be allowed in, so let the sergeant at arms. Oh! there he is. We stand behind the lane. I was just telling the, and you can be sure to let in. This is senator Tommy Tucker, I want you to know he is a glad a gladiator for children and for people with disabilities and people who cannot speak for themselves. He and I are partners in this with so many other people thank you so much for being here. Thank you [xx] As I was saying this is a very very special day and I'd like to speak from my heart first, and then I will explain the bills to you. My husband and I were therapeutic foster parents for the [xx] for children. I'm now a state senator, I ran for the senate for these two bills. I'm a tax incorporate attorney by trade. I' m a professor at The UNC Business School, King of [xx] Business School but I am here for these two bills. There are so many needs in the foster care system I had children in my home that had been strapped in car seats and shut off in a closet in the dark without food, without being changed for hours at a time. I had children in my home who had been as infants, sexually assaulted with broken bones in unmeasurable trauma. I frankly wish I had not seen this. I had no idea the evil that is in the world and the incompetence in some levels in the world. Having seen it, I cannot and will not be silent and so today you are helping me speak and Senator Tucker speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. I want to make sure too that I recognize that Senator Harrington who's actually not able to be here this morning because she's otherwise involved in a meeting is also sponsoring this bill along with many, many other folks in the Senate who are behind it and so now let me tell you a little bit about this bill, there are actually two bills. The first bill that I want to talk to you about is the Foster Care Family Act and the language in this bill this decree and create a normal family environment, reduce stigma and improve outcomes for children in foster care. It would also remove barriers to families considering providing foster care services in their home. This is about strengthening families, strengthening families. What does the bill do? It will support a normal family life and reduce the stigma of youth in foster care. Currently children in foster care are not allowed to participate in normal age appropriate activities such as sports or even spinning the knot with friends because the state retains the authority as the child's legal guardian or parent. Changes will be made through the implementation of a reasonable prudent parent standard, which will allow foster parents to make parental decisions that support the safety and best interest of the child, including opportunities for safe risk taking such as playing in school sports friends get to do, like all children get to do, up better not in foster- care. This bill will also provide the need for youth in foster-care to obtain, these are hard drivers license and secure car insurance, that thing is a major part of growing up and becoming an adult, and in foster-care children need to be involved in that too, they need to be included. Not having a driving license and insurance is a barrier to work to school, and to extracurricular activities. This field will also allow DHHS to explore medicaid 1915 oversee waiver for children with serious emotional disturbances, they're called STDs. Well, these are children with serious emotional disturbances. Remember the children I told you about, the ones that were closed in closets in the dark strapped in car seats,
the children who were brutalized by these people, many of these have serious emotional disturbances. What normal person wouldn't? The book of re-diagonized with ACID involved with foster care system, and currently treated in institutions such as inpatient hospitals, such as cycadriatric[sp?] the usual facilities. The waiver will potentially allow us to keep foster children in homes rather than inpatients standings as they move through needed treatment for a fraction of the cost of care, and they would also be a part of a family, a family for all children. This would also provide viability insurance for foster parents to provide foster care in their homes. Parents are placed in a vulnerable situation when thy choose to foster if they're held financial liable for harm or damage to that child in their care may incur conflict, liability coverage is key to recruiting and retaining qualified foster parents. That's the first bill that we're bringing forward, there is a second bill, and this is the one that is creating and generating even more Before I move on, I would like to thank the Department of Health and Human Services for their work in this. Also the Department of Transportation, first of all Secretary Varge[sp?] and undersecretary is here representing her today, Ms. Pruchia[sp?], and then we have the commissioner of insurance, Commissioner Goodwin is also working in tandem with this. This is a bipartisan, let's-get-this-job-done work of all of us because it's not about Republican or Democrat, urban or rural. It's about families and people and children. Well now the other one, and this one makes me very, very excited. It's called fostering success, and what it does is it extends foster care to age 19. And I'll go ahead and tell you for me I hope in the future, that is only the beginning. Many states have this now to age 21, but we have to do this thoughtfully, and we have to do this with the system we have to figure this out as we go along so the rationale of this, of extending the age from 18 I want to make sure that you know what happens. When a child reaches 18, I reached 18 in December of my senior of high school and I've been a foster child. I would think to lose, I would have been at the mercy of the kindness of the people who were taking me in to finish it up but remember this foster children are our responsibility. We'll all serve your family, the state and I would have a heck of a time finishing high school. We would have weird, under what bridge would I have just set up my own, what options would I have but what this Bill does is it gives you transitioning to adulthood, support to finish high school, attain higher education, employment and housing and avoiding environment with criminal justice system. Helping foster children become well functioning, educated, employed, tax-paying young adults reduces society's cost. what does the bill do? This bill will extend foster care to age 19 under certain conditions and one of these will have to be mad. The bill, the child would have to be completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential or involved in institutions which provide post secondary or vocational education, or be participating in a program or activity designed to promote or remove barriers to employment, or be employed at least 80 hours per month, or be incapable of doing any of those due to a medical condition. Astroguted to sign the leave foster care at 18 can choose to come back to stay until their 19th birthday, and so they can come back if they make the decision and realize, oh jeez I really do that foster family. Now this field is going to have some cost, and these are estimates. In the first year for the purposes of planning, in the department of health and human services will need a person, a professional and the estimated cost for that is $56, 000 for that year. In the first implementation of the program once developed, which should be in 2016, the cost including the continuation of this person would be a $1.3 million investment in the youth of our state, in the future of our state.
This estimates include federal [xx] dollars and do hold the counties harmless, and so this as a state we're taking this responsibility. In the longer term, a national analysis has found that the financial benefits of extending foster care for the individual youth and for society at large outweigh these costs two to one, and so it's a good investment on every level. So if Senator Tucker, would you have any comments you would like to make. I would be glad to yield to you. Well Just a couple. You never give a politician a mic. Let me just say on behalf of the department and Undersecretary Pruchier[sp?] as we led the charge two or three years ago with revamping foster foster care they're looking at all DSS departments, now they have nine people that we'll be in the street going to the 100 counties to at look DSS, to look at foster care, to look at conflict of interest, to check on protocol and do all of those things to make sure that these departments are running and they're adequately supporting not only children, but all the responsibilities of DSS. Some of you may know I was orphaned at 15 and bounced around by aunts and uncles and sent to a military camp even though I didn't need to go by the Methodist Church when I was 15. I have a little bit of feel for what children feel like when other people are making decisions for them. Right now as I speak I'm working with a young lady who plans to go to Winston-Salem state, she's in the foster care system in Greensboro. This young lady does not have license. She works every week 45 hours a week at she's going to Winston-Salem State, she's 18 years old in May and she has no where to stay between June, July and August because she's aced out of program. Senator Barringer and my bill will allow her to stay there for an individual like her to stay there later on, but it won't help her this year but we'll find her a place to stay for those three months as she enrolls and goes to a dorm life at Winston-Salem State and continues her education. So many children out here are like that, they just need a little bit of direction, and need that family structure, and that base to be able to move forward to make confident and good decisions. I always tell young people when I teach them in Sunday School, decisions you make between 15 and 18 can impact the rest of your life whether you finish college, whether you become pregnant, whether you start drinking or using drugs can impact your entire life. This is a critical age point and Senator Barringer has brought four things, bills along with the work from the department and I'm pleased to stand here with flash forward to this bills. Thank you Senator Jacob, it's absolutely wonderful, [xx] say what you'ld like to come forward and make a few comments. Well, this so a pre-emotional morning, there is nothing that we do what I'd suggest that is more important than the care of our children and the support the families that are caring for them every day. It would be nice to have a day when we didn't need foster care, when our families were able to care on their own for their children, raise them and do what's right. We don't have that and it is a pleasure to be here today and to see this support that we have in our legistlator, the recognition that many of our children need us and at just thank them for their investments and what they are doing to push these skills forward. We look forward to working with you to make sure that happens, thank you. Thank you so much. At this point if there're any questions, we would be glad to answer them think that this pretty self explanatory, and the bails are, the bail was filed last evening, and so I do urge you to contact your senators to encourage the [xx], they'll have until an hour after our session today to sign on the bill and endorse the bill as a co-sponsor. Please contact your offices and ask and tell them how important these two bills are, to please sign on with us so that we can make this happen, this is very important, but there're deadlines, our sessions at two, I don't no how long we'll go but they'll have an hour after that. So by about three O'clock today there won't be an opportunity to sign on. They can certainly vote for it and encourage it but the more folks we have endorsing this the stronger this bill gets. I'll just tell you I live by the saying or several sayings but one of them is there's no limit to the good work you can do if you're not worried about who's going to take the credit. Let me tell you I hope
every senator in this, all 50 senators will step forward and take all the credit they want because we need all the help we can get in this very important issue. Are there any questions? Yes Ma'am? So what's the response of leadership to these bills? They are very supportive, very supportive. We are recognized as a body that our children are critical to the future of this state. They are the future of this state. Any other questions? Well, again I'm just overwhelmed by the fact that you came out today. I'm actually going to go out, and make this presentation to those who've patiently waited outside so that they can get excited about, or more exited I think they're already excited, more excited about this bill. I thank the members of the press for being here. This is a, people and I will make one other comment. Until I became a foster parent I had no idea that their's trauma the toxic stress we now call it the de-placed upon some of this children. I had the privilege of growing up in a very loving and supportive home and I just thought that that's the way it was and members of the press it's so important that you keep this issue in front of the people because it's hard to believe the severe needs that we have in this state. So thank you so much for keeping this in front of the population of the populous so that they will work with us to deal with this issue because this is something that we as a society all must deal with together. Well, thank you again, thank you very much.