An investigative story appears in today St. Petersburg Times that uncovers Florida's near negligent treatment of 1900 children who have recently aged out of our foster care system with out ever having been adopted.
The Independent Living Program is a $35 million state run program that is supposed to help former foster children become functioning adults by helping them to pursue an education, learn to care for themselves and enter the work force. The youth receive government assistance toward the rent, utilities, transportation and food.
According the the St. Petersburg times article,
"Many of the youth go alarmingly unsupervised, sometimes with tragic results, according to several reports drafted by state auditors and child advocates since 2004."
"Such negligence contributed to the death of 3-month-old Emanuel Murray, whose mother, Jasmine Bedwell, then 17, was part of an Independent Living Program in Hillsborough County."
The Williams Institute at University of California Los Angeles recently estimated that Florida's adoption ban prevents 216 additional children from being adopted each year and costs the state at least $3.5 million annually.
What if this adoption ban, an artifact of the 1970's culture war, had been disposed of 10 years ago? 2,000 additional adoptions in our state would certainly have put a dramatic dent in the 1900 children tossed out of foster care in recent years because they reach the age of 18. How many 18-year-olds do you know who can take care of them selves. Now give that child $900/month and see what they buy.
More than anything else, children deserve a childhood. Having lost that, these 1900 children deserve better and we need to demand that lawmakers repeal this discriminatory adoption ban that, after three decades, continues to harm Florida's children!