Sending Office: Honorable Debbie Dingell
Sent By:
Kevin.Rambosk@mail.house.gov

Cosponsor H.R. 4990, the Rehab and Ahmed Amer Foster Care Improvement Act of 2018

Endorsed: AMER Foundation

Dear Colleague: 

When making foster care placement decisions, the child’s best interest should always be the core, overriding consideration.  Their security and future matters.  We are introducing important legislation that would require state foster care programs to ensure
children are prioritized for placement with their relatives while also putting additional requirements in place for a fairer decision-making process when an agency places a child.

In 1985, Rehab and Ahmed Amer lost two of their children to Michigan’s foster care system after the accidental death of their son.  Although cleared of any wrongdoing, the State refused to return the Amers’ children to their custody, thereby leaving the
family divided and heartbroken.  When Rehab’s brother petitioned to be a foster parent to the Amers’ children he was also denied even though he had previously served as a foster parent for other children.  This law would help keep families together when it
is appropriate and safe.

In reaction to the Amers’ story, Michigan came together to enact the “Amer Law” to keep foster children with the family members they know and love.  The Michigan law requires foster care placement agencies in Michigan to consider and give special preference
for relatives when making a foster care placement decision.  At all times a safe and nurturing environment is a top priority.

The Amer Law is consistent with federal policy that encourages placement of a child with a willing and able relative, but also has several provisions that go beyond current federal law to ensure greater due process.  In all, this law gives parents, relatives,
guardians, and the child in certain cases additional procedural rights, including the right to written notice and an explanation of a placement decision.  In addition, it authorizes judicial review of a placement decision by a foster care agency.  This legislation
simply adds these enhanced due process features of the Amer Law to existing federal foster care law. 

The
Rehab and Ahmed Amer Foster Care Improvement Act of 2018
would require that a State, within 90 days after it makes a foster care placement decision, to provide notice of such decision to the following affected parties:

  • the child’s parents;
  • relatives who have informed the State of their interest in caring for the child;
  • the guardian;
  • the guardian ad litem of the child;
  • the attorney for the child;
  • the attorney for each parent of the child;
  • the prosecutor involved; and
  • the child if he or she is able to express an opinion regarding placement. 

Additionally, States must establish procedures that:

  • allow any of the parties who receive notice of the State’s placement decision to request, within five days after receipt of the notice, documentation of the reasons for the State’s decision;
  •  allow the child’s attorney to petition the court involved to review the decision; and
  • require the court to commence such review within seven days after receipt of the petition and conduct such review on the record.

This bill is a modest but important measure that will improve the fairness of the foster care placement process and further promote the federal policy of encouraging the placement of a child with a willing and able relative.  To cosponsor, please contact
Kevin Rambosk (kevin.rambosk@mail.house.gov) on my staff at x 5-5664.  Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

 

Debbie Dingell

Member of Congress

 

 

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Family Issues

Related Bill Information

Bill Type: H.R.
Bill Number: 4990
Special Note:

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