Commentary: Keep the State's Kids Healthy

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, August 25, 2006

It's August, the final month of the legislative year, when the special interests either win or lose the myriad of goodies lawmakers are authorized to give out or to withhold.

As usual, the powerful are on track to get theirs. But what about the powerless, including the 85,000 or so California children in foster care, children who've been removed from their homes because of abuse and neglect.

A common sense bill to increase financial support for families who take in foster kids, from a measly $693 to just over $800 a month has already died. Another bill by Sacramento Assemblyman Dave Jones is barely alive. It would allow foster kids who age out of the system at 18 to hold on to their medical insurance until age 21. It would also require regular physical and dental checkups for kids still in foster care. The cost - $2.1 million a year, a pittance compared to the increase in pay and benefits state legislators are expected to give to - uh - prison guards this year. Lawmakers will have a hard time hearing the pleas of foster children over the roar of the powerful. They must try. The Jones bill to give health and dental care to foster kids deserves to go to the governor's desk.


Ginger Rutland writes for the Sacramento Bee Opinion pages.