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Dingell Introduces Foster Care Improvement Act

U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) today introduced the Rehab and Ahmed Amer Foster Care Improvement Act of 2018, legislation that requires state foster care programs to ensure children are prioritized for placement with their relatives and puts additional requirements in place for a fairer decision-making process when an agency places a child.

“The top priority of any foster care placement must be the child’s wellbeing and safety,” said Dingell. “This bill would help keep families together when it is appropriate and ensure children are placed into a safe and nurturing environment with relatives they know and love whenever possible. Michigan came together to pass this law after the Amer family lost their children to the state’s foster care system, leaving the family divided and heartbroken. Now is the time to make these same foster care improvements nationwide for the welfare and security of all children.”

The Rehab and Ahmed Amer Foster Care Improvement Act of 2018 would require that a state provides notice of decision to the child’s parents, relatives, or other legal guardian within 90 days of a placement decision. Additionally, the legislation would require states to establish procedures that would allow any of the parties who receive notice of the placement decision to request, within five days after receipt of the notice, documentation of the reasons for the state's decision. It would also allow the child's attorney to petition the court to review the decision and require that the court commence a review within seven days after receipt of the petition.

In 1985, Rehab and Ahmed Amer lost two of their children to Michigan's foster care system after the accidental death of their son. Although cleared of any wrongdoing, the State refused to return the Amers' children to their custody or allow a relative to care for the children. When Rehab’s brother petitioned to be a foster parent to the Amers’ children he was denied even though he had previously served as a foster parent for other children. Since then the Amer family has advocated tirelessly for improving foster care policies for all children.

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