School choice for foster kids
November 28, 2016
Several Oklahoma schoolchildren will have the opportunity on Tuesday to join Governor Mary Fallin at the annual lighting of the Christmas tree on the south steps of the state Capitol, KSWO reports. Moreover, “as part of the governor’s Oklahoma Fosters initiative, foster families and sibling groups, some of whom have been separated from each other, will also come together to decorate Christmas trees and watch the lighting ceremony.”
Gov. Fallin is to be applauded for her ongoing work on foster care. As she pointed out in her latest column, Oklahoma is making great strides in recruiting foster parents but much work remains to be done. To that end, here’s another way to incentivize recruitment of foster parents: Oklahoma should create a program providing scholarships for foster kids—as well as for the biological children of fostering parents—to cover tuition costs at private schools.
Some Oklahoma parents already receive, among other things, a clothing voucher for foster kids. The time has come for a school voucher as well. “If Oklahoma is going to adopt sweeping reforms to serve foster children better,” Greg Forster wrote last year in OCPA’s Perspective, “it shouldn't just think about homes. It should think about schools.” I encourage you to read his entire article here.
Before she was governor, Congresswoman Mary Fallin co-sponsored (along with Congressman Mike Pence and others) the "School Choice for Foster Kids Act," a bill which would authorize states to provide vouchers to foster kids. That federal legislation was not enacted, but Oklahoma’s state lawmakers have an opportunity to do something now. They should pass similar legislation in 2017 and send it to Gov. Fallin.