Home > Policies > Child Welfare > Advocate for legislation which permits eligible foster youth to retain federal benefits currently being retained by the state of Maryland

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.

Click here to read our frequently asked questions about the bill.

Our bill in the House is HB 416, and we are grateful to have Delegate Moon as our lead sponsor again! Our co-sponsors are Delegate Atterbeary, Delegate Carr, Delegate Dumais, Delegate Morhaim, Delegate Queen, Delegate Sanchez, and Delegate Sydnor.

Our Senate bill is SB 442, and we are thrilled to have Senator Madaleno as our new lead sponsor, since Senator Raskin is now in the House of Representatives! Our co-sponsors include Senator Brochin, Senator Benson, Senator Currie, 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.

SB 442 is scheduled for a hearing in the Finance Committee on February 22nd at 1 pm.

Click here to read ACY’s testimony in support of SB 442.

We had a great hearing in the Finance Committee, but rather than move the legislation forward, we are excited to see the new program with match savings for foster youth that DHR is rolling out this summer. There is budget language that will require them to submit two reports updating on the progress of that program.

July 12, 2017: DHR has submitted its first report, which you can read here.

December 15, 2017: If you want to reach the second report from DHS (formerly known as DHR), click here.