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Senate bills would end state seizure of foster kids' income to help pay for their own care

The Michigan state Senate room.
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

A new bill introduced in the Michigan Senate would stop the state's practice of using foster youth's income to pay for their care.

Democratic State Senator and bill sponsor Jeff Irwin said children in foster care sometimes inherit money from family members, or get payments from Social Security.

Irwin said what the state has been doing with the money — totalling more than $3 million a year — is short-sighted and unfair.

"The state has been essentially seizing the income of foster care kids and then using those dollars to support their care, essentially putting it into the state's general fund and spending it," he said. "When these foster kids age out of the system, they can often be put in a very vulnerable and dangerous position. And so, the idea that we should reserve these assets, their income for them, could be a big help to those kids."

Irwin says the bill would put the money into trust accounts to be used for things like living expenses and college tuition, once the foster youth are out of foster care.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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