Home > Policies > Child Welfare > Allow older foster youth to keep at least a portion of their Social Security benefits to help with the difficult transition out of care.

The General Assembly has passed this legislation! Maryland is now the first state in the entire country to ensure that foster youth KEEP their federal benefits! We are incredibly grateful to all of our partners over the last 5 years to achieve this win for foster youth aging out of care!

April 5, 2018Judiciary issued a favorable report on SB 291!

April 3, 2018: We had a great hearing in the House Judiciary Committee today on Senate Bill 291.

April 3, 2018: HB 524 got through 2nd reader on the Senate floor!

April 2, 2018: Here is University of Baltimore Law Professor Dan Hatcher’s Op Ed from the Sun in support of this legislation.

April 2, 2018: The Senate Judicial Proceedings issued a favorable report on HB 524, but eliminated the House’s amendments so the bill includes all foster youth ages 14 and older who receive social security or veteran’s benefits.

March 19, 2018: SB 291 got through 3rd reader unanimously on the Senate floor, and is now headed to the House!

March 17, 2018: HB 524 got through 3rd reader on the House floor, and is now headed to the Senate!

March 16, 2018: The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee issued a favorable report without any amendments!

March 15, 2018: The House Judiciary Committee issued a favorable report on the bill, after amending it to include foster youth with disabilities who receive Social Security, but to exclude foster youth receiving social security survivor benefits. After 5 years, this is our first time getting the bill out of the Judiciary Committee!

February 8, 2018: We had great hearings in the Senate Judicial Proceedings and House Judiciary Committees. Our witnesses included Rachel White, ACY’s Child Welfare  Director and Chair of the Coalition to Protect Maryland’s Children, Mitchell Mirvis, Attorney for Baltimore City’s Foster Youth in the LJ v. Padilla class action lawsuit, Dan Hatcher, Professor at University of Baltimore School of Law, Margaret Holmes, Attorney for Children at the Legal Aid Bureau, and Ingrid Lofgren, Attorney at the Homeless Persons Representation Project.

Click here to read ACY’s testimony in support of the legislation.

February 1, 2018: SB 291 & HB 524 will be heard in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and Judiciary Committee, respectively, on February 8th at 1 pm!

January 26, 2018:

Our Senate Bill is SB 291! Thank you Senator Madaleno for being our lead sponsor. We are also excited to have 23 co-sponsors: Senator Benson, Senator Brochin, Senator Currie, Senator Feldman, Senator Ferguson, Senator Guzzone, Senator Jennings, Senator Kagan, Senator Kelley, Senator King, Senator Lee, Senator Manno, Senator McFadden, Senator Muse, Senator Norman, Senator Ramirez, Senator Ready, Senator Robinson, Senator Rosapepe, Senator Salling, Senator Smith, Senator Young, and Senator Zucker.

Our House Bill is HB 524! Thank you Delegate Moon for being our lead sponsor. We are also grateful to our co-sponsors: Delegate Anderson, Delegate Atterbeary, Delegate Conway, Delegate Dumais, Delegate Glass, Delegate Hettleman, Delegate Jalisi, Delegate J. Lewis, Delegate Lierman, Delegate Morhaim, Delegate Proctor, Delegate Queen, Delegate Sanchez, Delegate Sydnor, Delegate Valentino-Smith, Delegate M. Washington, and Delegate Wilson.

January 10, 2018

Currently DHR applies for Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Social Security Survivor (OASDI) benefits for children in their care who have been abused and/or neglected and live in a foster home, group home, or treatment center. Rather than using that child’s benefits for additional services for that child, they are using the money to reimburse the state for the cost of their placement.

This bill will ensure that the children are notified when application for benefits are submitted, that there is an accounting done of how the benefits are being spent, and for older youth, at least a portion of the benefits are used to help with the difficult transition out of foster care. National data from the most expansive survey of former foster youth (720 of whom were contacted at age 26) indicates how poor their outcomes are:[1]

  • 31% (182) of youth surveyed reported being homeless or needing to couch-surf after aging out of the child welfare system and almost half reported experiencing homelessness more than once
  • 50% reported experiencing homelessness more than once
  • 9% (118) had no high school diploma or GED at age 26
  • Only 2.5% (15) had a 4 year degree; 4.4% (26) had a 2 year degree
  • 8 % (279) were unemployed (About half worked in the past year and half had last worked more than a year ago.)
  • 3% (91) have a chronic medical condition
  • 5% (254) of women and 47.6% (119) of men were receiving means tested benefits

Compared to a 1 in 194 chance for someone in the general U.S. population, youth that have aged out of care have a 1 in 11 chance of experiencing homelessness over the course of a year.[2]

 This bill requires DHR to put at least the following percentages of the benefits into savings accounts:

14-15 year olds: 40%

16-17 year olds: 80%

18-20 year olds: 100%

[1] “Midwest evaluation of the adult functioning of former foster youth: Outcomes at age 26”. Chicago, IL: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, p. 12, 20, 28, 46, & 44.

[2] “The state of homelessness in America 2012,” Washington, DC: National Alliance to End Homelessness, Homelessness Research Institute (2012), p. 5.

Click here to read our one-pager about the bill!