Foster alumnus speaks out against Oklahoma SB1140
By David Hall
My name is David Samuel Hall, and I grew up in Oklahoma’s foster care system. I am a part of Foster Care Alumni of America which is made up of only alumni advocating for awareness and a better child welfare system.
Our Oklahoma chapter and parent organization strongly oppose Oklahoma SB1140.
Unfortunately, Representative Travis Dunlap has proposed an amendment to SB1140, with poorly-written language. This amendment would allow any private child-placing agency - religious or not - to refuse to find homes for kids [based on their beliefs].
However, Dunlap says he wrote this with the intent to provide more foster and adoptive homes.
As foster care alumni, we have been told time and time again the primary author, Greg Treat, would set a meeting with us. Though we have tried on multiple occasions and left our information after each and every time, he has yet to set up a meeting or do us the least respect of having a call after four months.
If this is supposed to help our brothers and sisters in foster care, why has he not done more than repeatedly move and cancel meetings?
Now, even though both authors stated this was simply for legal protections, Representative Dunlap is currently trying to exploit the needs of my brothers and sisters by using us as pawns to garner funds. SB1140 passed out of the Judiciary committee only after they made sure groups who are advocating for this could maintain their beliefs if they didn’t allow your tax dollars to turn away families and children.
If this is about allowing private organizations to maintain their values, then there is absolutely no reason anyone needs to be guaranteed a publicly-funded contract they will actually find homes for kids who have yet to find one.
We have about 1,500 teens in foster care who are 13 and up. One-third of them don’t have anywhere to call home. Three in four of these kids have nowhere to go, have a disability or are considered “medically fragile.”
That’s right - almost all of our kids without a family have a disability. Of those without a disability and in these facilities, a Midwestern study done a few years ago indicates over half should be LGBTQ.
And did I mention the fact that DHS already must split their strapped cash with 14 other private agencies?
Every child deserves a family. That is why I and foster care alumni across Oklahoma and the nation strongly oppose SB1140 proposed by Senator Greg Treat. As amended, this bill could allow our tax money to fund private child-placing agencies turning the shelters and group homes we already grew up in into modern-day orphanages.
As former kids in custody who grew up in Oklahoma’s foster care system, still have brothers and sisters who will remain in these horrid places if this bill passes.
We call upon House leadership to refuse to hear this bill until we are promised a meeting with the Senate or House author. We call upon legislators to refuse to hear Dunlap’s needless amendment which does nothing more than exploit our need for families to give people extra cash.
Finally, we call upon our allies, advocates, supporters, faith-based organizations, and others to demand this bill not be passed so that we don’t leave more kids without a home.
Copyright The Gayly 4/24/2018 @ 10:24 a.m. CST.