Unless the U.S. Congress agrees on a different budget by the end of this year, stopping a so-called “sequestration” budget, federal spending on juvenile justice programs will fall by around 8 percent. A total $21 million would be sliced out of Juvenile Justice Programs under the federal Department of Justice alone, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget’s report on sequestration. Other spending that has some effect on juvenile welfare, such as state grants from the federal Administration for Children and Families, are also in line for cuts of around 8 percent. “We are kind of bracing ourselves,” said Kimberly Williams, juvenile justice specialist at the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission. “Last year we had only about $1.5 million in juvenile justice funding to allocate across the whole state.
The federal government is now pushing states to take part in two foster care programs that support guardianship placements and the extension of foster care up to age 21. The two programs are part of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, which was passed in 2009 and allows for federal IV-E funds to be more freely used, according to Youth Today. According to the Act, teens will be eligible for these funds if they continue their education or get a job among other things. As JJIE.org reported last month, more than 700 fostered teens in Georgia turn 18 this year and face an uncertain future, and a quarter of young people who age out become homeless within two years. But Georgia has apparently not applied for the money that might help them.
I sat in the Fulton County Juvenile Court audience on Saturday, November 20th , with my son and my husband, watching the joyful and moving ceremony of 23 families who were celebrating their adoptions on National Adoption Day . Afterward, I thought about my earlier conversation this past week remembering Fulton’s Terrell Peterson who suffered and died at the age of 5 when he should have been protected by our child welfare system and adopted by a loving family. These two events might seem like they are far apart but they are linked in my mind because November is also the 10 year anniversary of Terrell’s picture on the cover of Time Magazine with the title of “The Shame of Foster Care.” Terrell’s tragic case deeply affected many people. For my family, Terrell was the catalyst of working with Emory University School of Law to create the Barton Child Law and Policy Clinic , for others it was the call to become foster parents , CASAs or mentors.