The Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee has unanimously approved a measure that would require county children and youth agencies to evaluate every child in foster care for eligibility for federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) prior to their leaving the system.
The bill's sponsor Democratic Senator LeAnna Washington of Philadelphia believes that 2,000 of the 20,000 children in foster care would qualify....."The goal is to use existing federal programs to provide children aging out of foster care with resources to assist in their transition to independence."
To qualify for SSI, a child must have a diagnosed physical or mental condition that very seriously limits his or her activities. That condition must last at least one year or be expected to result in the child's death.
Senator Washington says the child could be eligible for monthly payments up to $674. The money would go to the state until the child is 18..."Given the 2 very pressing needs we face--finding resources to ensure stability for children that age out of foster care without family or resources and the need to identify new revenue streams for the state" it's time to consider her legislation.
Washington says other states including California have done this and she estimates that qualifying the foster kids for SSI could mean $18 million a year for the state. After the foster child turns 18, the monthly payments go to the individual.