Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid has filed a bill establishing a moratorium on aging out of foster care during the state of public health emergency because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and for six months thereafter.
In filing Senate Bill No. 2050, Lapid explained that it has been reported that the current COVID-19 pandemic has a “potentially far-reaching, long-term negative impact on children” in the form of increasing incidence of domestic violence, child labor, sexual exploitation, teenage pregnancy, limited or no education and other forms of abuse or violation of their rights.
Lapid said that this negative impact is even more pronounced in vulnerable sectors of this age group such as abandoned, neglected, orphaned, rescued or surrendered children, adding that one specific example is the plight of children under foster care.
He stressed that these children are commonly not equipped with sufficient filial and social networks and support systems from whom they can depend on or who are capable of assisting them in enduring this pandemic situation.
When these children age out of their foster care arrangements, Lapid said that they most likely do not have families, relatives and even close friends who could temporarily shelter them and provide them with basic necessities.
They might end up returning in crowded institutional care facilities or orphanages, or worse, become homeless and live in the streets, he emphasized.
The Lapid bill seeks to address this problem by establishing a moratorium on the aging out of children in foster care, such as reaching the age of majority which terminates the foster care placement, under Republic Act (RA) 10165 or the “Foster Care Act of 2012” during the pendency of the “State of Public Health Emergency Throughout the Philippines” in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Children who were under foster care during the start of the State of Public Health Emergency declared by Presidential Proclamation (PD) 922, but have aged out prior to the effectivity of this Act shall be entitled to return to foster care, if requested.
During the moratorium period, the bill also provides that both the foster child and the foster parent/s shall continue to receive the assistance and incentives set forth under RA 10165.