Rep. Les Gara

House Bill 27 Will Help Ensure More Foster Youth Have a Loving Home

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 31, 2016

Juneau – Today, the Alaska Legislature passed House Bill 27 to make significant reforms to help improve the lives of foster youth in Alaska.  The bill, sponsored by Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage), includes provisions to get youth into stable, permanent, loving homes and out of foster care, where youth often bounce between a dozen or more homes.    

“The Legislature came together to increase the chances that our 2,900 foster youth get a fair shake in life,” said Rep. Gara.  “House Bill 27, and the additional help in the budget, will make sure we do better than perpetuate neglect for too many youth.  We need to perpetuate love and stability for youth who face too many roadblocks to success.”

House Bill 27 passed the Alaska House of Representatives unanimously in April.  The Alaska Senate unanimously approved the bill earlier today.  The bill requires more work to be done to find good relative homes for youth if they are available.  Currently, Alaska has the second highest per capita number of foster youth waiting for adoptive homes in the nation.  

“I can’t list all the members of both parties who went out of their way to help this bill pass,” said Rep. Gara, a former foster youth who lost his father at the age of six.  “I especially want to thank the Governor and First Lady for championing these youth. The bill only passed because of their help.”

HB 27 adds foster and adoptive parent recruitment to the duties of the Office of Children’s Services.  The bill also requires OCS to continue looking for a home or legal guardian until the foster youth is 21.  HB 27 also encourages OCS to work to reduce the number of times a foster youth moves from one school to another. 

HB 27 will now be sent to Governor Bill Walker for his signature.

For more information, contact Rep. Les Gara (907) 250-0106.

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