Saturday, July 22, 2006

Bush Administration puts foster care kids at risk

New Medicaid rules require that people seeking Medicaid assistance provide proof of citizenship. This can be problematic say, if you are from New Orleans and your birth records have been destroyed, or if you are 90 years old and your records are six states away, or if you are severely cognitively disabled and have absolutely no way to get those records.

The Bush Administration took care of part of the problem earlier this month by exempting about 8 million elderly or disabled people from those requirements. There is still an especially vulnerable population at risk, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: children in foster care.

The CBPP says:

An abused or neglected child, removed from the home and taken into state custody, does not typically come into foster care with a certified or original birth certificate or passport. Most children are placed in foster care because of abuse or neglect occurring within the context of extreme poverty, homelessness, mental illness, parental substance abuse, or human immunodeficiency virus infection. As a result, families may not have, or may not be willing to relinquish, documentary evidence on their children. The emergency nature of these removals requires that state agencies subsequently work with birth parents and use electronic sources, such as electronic birth records, to establish a complete case file on the child.

Under the terms of the regulations, however, states will not be able to rely on their child welfare records or on electronic exchanges of information between the child welfare and Medicaid agencies. States will need to obtain an original or certified birth certificate (or a passport) for the child’s Medicaid file, or to obtain the information through a match with vital records information, before eligibility can be established, even though child welfare agencies may have already verified that the child is a citizen.

Applying the new rules to these kids seems monumentally mean-spirited and unnecessary. If the elderly and vulnerable can be exempted from the, why not the young and vulnerable?

1 comment:

Lisa said...

As a former foster child and current child advocate,

I completely agree with your posting.

Check out my blog sometime... there have been petitions signed by organizations, including FCAA (Foster Care Alumni of America, of which I am a chapter designee).