WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Neal Dunn, M.D. (Florida-02) recently introduced the Creating Accountable Respectful Environments (CARE) for Children Act (H.R. 3852). This bill addresses the shortage of foster home options for children by allowing cottage homes to be eligible for federal funds that other programs already have access to.
“Going into the foster care system can be difficult for a child and their parents. The transition is even more difficult when there is a shortage of foster care options,” said Congressman Dunn. “The CARE for Children Act seeks to ensure the health and safety of children, as well as expands options by including cottage family homes. We must do everything we can to help the future generation become the best versions of themselves.”
H.R. 3852 adds “cottage family homes” to the options of federally supported housing for foster children. Cottage family homes offer a family-like living environment in a single-family residence with no more than two children per bedroom unless it is in the children’s best interest. The cottage “parents” can supervise and nurture around the clock creating a healthier, stable environment.
“We must always prioritize the well-being of our children and provide them with the best possible care. That is why I am proud to co-introduce the Creating Accountable Respectful Environments (CARE) for Children Act, which amends the Social Security Act to include 'Cottage Family Homes' to make them eligible for federal funds,” said Congressman Darren Soto (FL-09). “This bill will open up stable and nurturing home environments for children including an estimated six locations in Florida alone. These locations will be extremely beneficial to the well-being of every child who needs them as they will increase capacity, keep sibling groups together, and provide children with a normalized home environment that maintains a strong connection with the child’s family.”
"The CARE for Children Act aims to create safe, healthy environments for children by promoting capacity-building, keeping sibling groups together, and providing a normalized home and community environment for our youth in Florida,” said Rep. Kat Cammack (FL-03). “At a time when foster homes are in short supply, this bill ensures that cottage family homes keep children safe, nurtured, and cared for to help them grow into happy, healthy adults. I’m glad to join Rep. Dunn and my Florida colleagues in supporting the CARE Act.”
“The CARE Act will open doors to a better and brighter future for foster youth, providing them with the normalized home environment that they need to thrive,” said Congresswoman Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL-20). “I’m proud to join several of my colleagues in the Florida Congressional Delegation in introducing this necessary and bipartisan piece of legislation.”
“Protecting children and giving them every opportunity to thrive is essential. The Creating Accountable Respectful Environments (CARE) for Children Act addresses the health, safety, and well-being of children who must face and ensure hardship,” said Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-25). “I am proud to introduce this legislation with my colleagues so we can provide children with a normalized home and community environment when times are most difficult.”
“We are grateful that Dr. Dunn and the bill co-sponsors see the value of cottage family homes as a support to struggling families and trauma-impacted children. This bill ensures accountability and respectful environments for children during a difficult time in their lives. Children deserve the warmth, care, education, and support a cottage family home provides,” said Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches President Bill Frye.
“Cottage Family homes are a key component to keeping siblings together. This legislation ensures a quality home life for trauma-impacted children. We are grateful for this legislation,” said Brad Gregory, CEO of A Kids Place.
“With the growing foster care parent shortage reaching crisis levels, the Florida Coalition for Children appreciates efforts to remove barriers, to have the right placement options, and to maintain critical social and emotional standards for children. While Florida leads the way in providing child-welfare services to children and families, we understand the need to keep a vigilant hand in our approach to care and we applaud the efforts by Congressman Dunn and his co-sponsors of The Creating Accountable Respectful Environments (CARE) for Children Act, which will ensure the Nation's child-welfare system has every tool available to the meet the needs of children,” said the Florida Coalition for Children.
“This bill defines what out-of-home placement for children should look like,” said Baptist Childrens Village.
“Children from hard places needing out-of-home placement due to threat of imminent harm win with the provisions of the CARE Act. The Act increases the number of residential resources available to keep sibling groups together while ensuring safeguards that protect a child’s right to normalized extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, and social activities that offer the same freedoms afforded peers living with their own families. With the provisions of this Act, the continuum of care for children is increased with the creation of accountable, respectful environments. Passage of the Act will help eliminate the horror stories of children left in harm's way and not surviving the experience or being placed with families not licensed to provide their care and being subjected to harm due to a lack of training or safeguards that ensure safety,” said Coalition of Residential Excellence Executive Director Don Forrester.
“The children we serve have experienced unthinkable trauma, and they deserve the very best care we have to offer. The CARE Act does exactly that as it encourages siblings to remain together while providing more options for a family setting in a Cottage Home,” said St. Augustine Youth Services Executive Director Schuyler Siefker.