Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Rep. Karen Bass promotes new law to help foster kids stay in school

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Kitty Felde/ KPCC

Congresswoman Karen Bass of Los Angeles is behind a law that will allow social workers access to education records of foster children.

One of the bills awaiting President Obama’s signature makes an important change to the laws that govern children in foster care. Democrat Congresswoman Karen Bass of Los Angeles championed the measure.

Bass co-founded the Caucus on Foster Care Youth when she arrived on Capitol Hill two years ago.

The first piece of legislation from the caucus seems minor, but Bass says it has big consequences. It allows a social worker access to a young person’s educational record. Bass says the original restrictions in the federal education code were designed to protect a child’s privacy.

"The problem," says Bass, "is that the average youth in the foster care system attends three-to-five high schools. And what winds up happening [to] kids, if they’re transferred and transferred, they wind up repeating course after course after course." Bass says when you do that to a 14- or 15-year-old, they stop going to school.

Bass says the idea for the legislation emerged from a nationwide listening tour, in which foster kids and social workers weighed in on steps Congress could take to improve the nation’s foster care system. That listening tour continues through this year. 


Want a seat at the inauguration? Make a video.

Office of Rep. Karen Bass

Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) is giving her constituents a chance to attend President Obama's inauguration.

Getting an actual seat at the Presidential inauguration is tough. Even though members of Congress get more than 170 tickets to distribute to the January 21st event, they get fewer than two dozen actual seats. Everyone else gets to stand around in the cold.

Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass of Los Angeles, like most members, is holding a lottery for the standing room tickets. But she's also offering two actual seats to each of two lucky constituents.

But there are two catches: you have to make a video essay, and you have to live in her district.

You can be as artsy as your inner filmmaker wants to be, but you also have to adhere to the theme: explaining how your life or community has been impacted by President Obama and how you'd like to see his administration move our country forward over the next four years.