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Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence

Representing the 14th District of Michigan

Congresswoman Lawrence on the Timely Mental Health for Foster Youth Act

February 16, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, Congresswoman Lawrence introduced H.R. 1069, “The Timely Mental Health for Foster Youth Act”, with five original cosponsors. This bill would require mental health screenings for all children entering foster care.  The legislation calls for an initial mental health assessment to take place within 30 days of a child entering foster care with a comprehensive follow-up assessment if deemed necessary:

“Researchers have identified mental health as ‘the greatest unmet health need for children and teens in foster care.’ Foster youth are five times more likely to suffer from trauma and PTSD, but may not have access to the proper care or support network needed.

“Children entering foster care undergo required physical health assessments, but there are no assurances that each child receives a mental health screening. While some states already conduct an initial mental health assessment, their timeframes can vary from days to months, if at all. This bill mandates that our foster care system recognizes the importance of mental health for at-risk youth.

“The Timely Mental Health for Foster Youth Act” is a bipartisan, bicameral measure guaranteeing that foster youth are given the resources necessary to succeed from the moment they enter care.  I am deeply committed to ensuring that every child receives mental health services and support.