Text: H.R.822 — 109th Congress (2005-2006)

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Introduced in House (02/15/2005)


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[Congressional Bills 109th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 822 Introduced in House (IH)]






109th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 822

  To support the establishment or expansion and operation of programs 
  using a network of public and private community entities to provide 
                 mentoring for children in foster care.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                           February 15, 2005

    Ms. Millender-McDonald introduced the following bill; which was 
  referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, and in addition to the 
     Committee on Education and the Workforce, for a period to be 
subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration 
  of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee 
                               concerned

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
  To support the establishment or expansion and operation of programs 
  using a network of public and private community entities to provide 
                 mentoring for children in foster care.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Foster Care Mentoring Act of 2005''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress makes the following findings:
            (1) Research shows that caring adults can make a difference 
        in children's lives. Forty five percent of mentored teens are 
        less likely to use drugs. Fifty nine percent of mentored teens 
        have better academic performance. Seventy three percent of 
        mentored teens achieve higher goals generally.
            (2) Children that have mentors have better relationships 
        with adults, fewer disciplinary referrals, and more confidence 
        to achieve their goals.
            (3) In 2001, over 163,000 children in the foster care 
        system were under the age of 5 years.
            (4) In 2001, over 124,000 children were under the age of 10 
        when they were removed from their parents or caretakers.
            (5) The International Day of the Child, sponsored by 
        Children United Nations, has served as a great tool to recruit 
        mentors and partner them with needy foster care children.
            (6) On November 10, 2002, as many as 3,000 children will be 
        matched with mentors as a result of the International Day of 
        the Child.
            (7) States should be encouraged to incorporate mentor 
        programs into the delivery of their foster care services. The 
        State of California serves as a great example, matching close 
        to half a million mentors with needy children.
            (8) Mentor programs that serve foster children are unique 
        and require additional considerations including specialized 
        training and support necessary to provide for consistent, long 
        term relationships for children in care.
            (9) Mentor programs are cost-effective approaches to 
        decreasing the occurrence of so many social ills such as teen 
        pregnancy, substance abuse, incarceration and violence.

SEC. 3. PROGRAMS FOR MENTORING CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE.

    Subpart 2 of part B of title IV of the Social Security Act (42 
U.S.C. 629 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:

``SEC. 440. PROGRAMS FOR MENTORING CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE.

    ``(a) Purpose.--It is the purpose of this section to authorize the 
Secretary to make grants to eligible applicants to support the 
establishment or expansion and operation of programs using a network of 
public and private community entities to provide mentoring for children 
in foster care.
    ``(b) Definitions.--In this section:
            ``(1) Children in foster care.--The term `children in 
        foster care' means children who have been removed from the 
        custody of their biological or adoptive parents by a State 
        child welfare agency.
            ``(2) Mentoring.--The term `mentoring' means a structured, 
        managed program in which children are appropriately matched 
        with screened and trained adult volunteers for one-on-one 
        relationships, that involves meetings and activities on a 
        regular basis, and that is intended to meet, in part, the 
        child's need for involvement with a caring and supportive adult 
        who provides a positive role model.
            ``(3) Political subdivision.--The term `political 
        subdivision' means a local jurisdiction below the level of the 
        State government, including a county, parish, borough, or city.
    ``(c) Grant Program.--
            ``(1) In general.--The Secretary shall carry out a program 
        to award grants to States to support the establishment or 
        expansion and operation of programs using networks of public 
        and private community entities to provide mentoring for 
        children in foster care.
            ``(2) Grants to political subdivisions.--The Secretary may 
        award a grant under this subsection directly to a political 
        subdivision if the subdivision serves a substantial number of 
        foster care youth (as determined by the Secretary).
            ``(3) Application requirements.--To be eligible for a grant 
        under paragraph (1), the chief executive officer of the State 
        or political subdivision shall submit to the Secretary an 
        application containing the following:
                    ``(A) Program design.--A description of the 
                proposed program to be carried out using amounts 
                provided under this grant, including--
                            ``(i) a list of local public and private 
                        organizations and entities that will 
                        participate in the mentoring network;
                            ``(ii) the name, description, and 
                        qualifications of the entity that will 
                        coordinate and oversee the activities of the 
                        mentoring network;
                            ``(iii) the number of mentor-child matches 
                        proposed to be established and maintained 
                        annually under the program;
                            ``(iv) such information as the Secretary 
                        may require concerning the methods to be used 
                        to recruit, screen support, and oversee 
                        individuals participating as mentors, (which 
                        methods shall include criminal background 
                        checks on the individuals), and to evaluate 
                        outcomes for participating children, including 
                        information necessary to demonstrate compliance 
                        with requirements established by the Secretary 
                        for the program; and
                            ``(v) such other information as the 
                        Secretary may require.
                    ``(B) Training.--An assurance that all mentors 
                covered under the program will receive intensive and 
                ongoing training in the following areas:
                            ``(i) Child development, including the 
                        importance of bonding.
                            ``(ii) Family dynamics, including the 
                        effects of domestic violence.
                            ``(iii) Foster care system, principles, and 
                        practices.
                            ``(iv) Recognizing and reporting child 
                        abuse and neglect.
                            ``(v) Confidentiality requirements for 
                        working with children in care.
                            ``(vi) Working in coordination with the 
                        public school system.
                            ``(vii) Other matters related to working 
                        with children in care.
                    ``(C) Screening.--An assurance that all mentors 
                covered under the program are appropriately screened 
                and have demonstrated a willingness to comply with all 
                aspects of the mentor program, including--
                            ``(i) a description of the methods to be 
                        used to conduct criminal background checks on 
                        all prospective mentors; and
                            ``(ii) a description of the methods to be 
                        used to ensure that the mentors are willing and 
                        able to serve as a mentor on a long term, 
                        consistent basis.
                    ``(D) Educational requirements.--An assurance that 
                all mentors recruited to serve as academic mentors 
                will--
                            ``(i) have a high school diploma or its 
                        equivalent; and
                            ``(ii) have completed at least 1 year of 
                        study in a program leading to a graduate or 
                        post graduate degree.
                    ``(E) Community consultation; coordination with 
                other programs.--A demonstration that, in developing 
                and implementing the program, the State or political 
                subdivision will, to the extent feasible and 
                appropriate--
                            ``(i) consult with public and private 
                        community entities, including religious 
                        organizations, and including, as appropriate, 
                        Indian tribal organizations and urban Indian 
                        organizations, and with family members of 
                        potential clients;
                            ``(ii) coordinate the programs and 
                        activities under the program with other 
                        Federal, State, and local programs serving 
                        children and youth; and
                            ``(iii) consult and coordinate with 
                        appropriate Federal, State, and local 
                        corrections, workforce development, and 
                        substance abuse and mental health agencies.
                    ``(F) Equal access for local service providers.--An 
                assurance that public and private entities and 
                community organizations, including religious 
                organizations and Indian organizations, will be 
                eligible to participate on an equal basis.
                    ``(G) Records, reports, and audits.--An agreement 
                that the State or political subdivision will maintain 
                such records, make such reports, and cooperate with 
                such reviews or audits as the Secretary may find 
                necessary for purposes of oversight of project 
                activities and expenditures.
                    ``(H) Evaluation.--An agreement that the State or 
                political subdivision will cooperate fully with the 
                Secretary's ongoing and final evaluation of the program 
                under the plan, by means including providing the 
                Secretary access to the program and program-related 
                records and documents, staff, and grantees receiving 
                funding under the plan.
            ``(4) Federal share.--
                    ``(A) In general.--A grant for a program under this 
                subsection shall be available to pay a percentage share 
                of the costs of the program up to 75 percent for each 
                year for which the grant is awarded.
                    ``(B) Non-federal share.--The non-Federal share of 
                the cost of projects under this subsection may be in 
                cash or in kind. In determining the amount of the non-
                Federal share, the Secretary may attribute fair market 
                value to goods, services, and facilities contributed 
                from non-Federal sources.
            ``(5) Considerations in awarding grants.--In awarding 
        grants under this subsection, the Secretary shall take into 
        consideration--
                    ``(A) the overall qualifications and capacity of 
                the State or political subdivision program and its 
                partners to effectively carry out a mentoring program 
                under this subsection;
                    ``(B) the level and quality of training provided to 
                mentors under the program;
                    ``(C) evidence of coordination of the program with 
                the State's or political subdivision's social services 
                and education programs;
                    ``(D) the ability of the State or political 
                subdivision to provide supervision and support for 
                mentors under the program and the youth served by such 
                mentors;
                    ``(E) evidence of consultation with institutes of 
                higher learning;
                    ``(F) the number of children in care served by the 
                State or political subdivision; and
                    ``(G) any other factors that the Secretary 
                determines to be significant with respect to the need 
                for or the potential success of carrying out a 
                mentoring program under this subsection.
            ``(6) Use of funds.--Of the amount awarded to a State or 
        political subdivision under a grant under this subsection the 
        State or subdivision shall--
                    ``(A) use not less than 50 percent of the total 
                grant amount for the training and ongoing educational 
                support of mentors; and
                    ``(B) use not more than 10 percent of the total 
                grant amount for administrative purposes.
            ``(7) Maximum grant amount.--
                    ``(A) In general.--In awarding grants under this 
                section, the Secretary shall consider the number of 
                children served by the jurisdiction and the grant 
                amount relative to the need for services.
                    ``(B) Limit.--The amount of a grant awarded to a 
                State or political subdivision under this subsection 
                shall not exceed $600,000.
            ``(8) Annual report.--Not later than 1 year after the date 
        of enactment of this section, and annually thereafter, the 
        Secretary shall prepare and submit to Congress a report that 
        includes the following with respect to the year involved:
                    ``(A) A description of the number of programs 
                receiving grant awards under this subsection.
                    ``(B) A description of the number of mentors who 
                serve in the programs described in subparagraph (A).
                    ``(C) A description of the number of mentored 
                foster children--
                            ``(i) who graduate from high school;
                            ``(ii) who enroll in college; and
                            ``(iii) who are adopted by their mentors.
                    ``(D) Any other information that the Secretary 
                determines to be relevant to the evaluation of the 
                program under this subsection.
            ``(9) Evaluation.--Not later than 3 years after the date of 
        enactment of this section, the Secretary shall conduct an 
        evaluation of the effectiveness of programs funded under this 
        section, including a comparison between the rate of drug and 
        alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy, delinquency, homelessness, 
        and other outcome measures for mentored foster care youth and 
        non-mentored foster care youth.
            ``(10) Authorization of appropriations.--There are 
        authorized to be appropriated to carry out this subsection, 
        $15,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2006 and 2007, and such 
        sums as may be necessary for each succeeding fiscal year.
    ``(d) National Coordination of Statewide Mentoring Partnerships.--
            ``(1) In general.--The Secretary may award a competitive 
        grant to an eligible entity to establish a National Hotline 
        Service or Website to provide information to individuals who 
        are interested in becoming mentors to youth in foster care.
            ``(2) Authorization of appropriations.--There are 
        authorized to be appropriated to carry out this subsection, 
        $4,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2006 and 2007, and such 
        sums as may be necessary for each succeeding fiscal year.
    ``(e) Loan Forgiveness.--
            ``(1) Definitions.--In this subsection:
                    ``(A) Eligible mentor.--The term `eligible mentor' 
                means an individual who has served as a mentor in a 
                statewide mentor program established under subsection 
                (c) for at least 200 hours in a single calendar year.
                    ``(B) Federal student loan.--The term `Federal 
                student loan' means any loan made, insured, or 
                guaranteed under part B, D, or E of tide IV of the 
                Higher Education Act of 1965.
                    ``(C) Secretary.--The term `Secretary' means the 
                Secretary of Education.
            ``(2) Relief from indebtedness.--
                    ``(A) In general.--The Secretary shall carry out a 
                program to provide for the discharge or cancellation of 
                the Federal student loan indebtedness of an eligible 
                mentor.
                    ``(B) Method of discharge or cancellation.--A loan 
                that will be discharged or canceled under the program 
                under subparagraph (A) shall be discharged or canceled 
                as provided for using the method under section 437(a), 
                455(a)(1), or 464(c)(1)(F) of the Higher Education Act 
                of 1965, as applicable.
                    ``(C) Amount of relief.--The amount of relief to be 
                provided with respect to a loan under this subsection 
                shall--
                            ``(i) be equal to $2,000 for each 200 hours 
                        of service of an eligible mentor; and
                            ``(ii) not exceed a total of $20,000 for an 
                        eligible individual.
            ``(3) Facilitation of claims.--The Secretary shall--
                    ``(A) establish procedures for the filing of 
                applications for the discharge or cancellation of loans 
                under this subsection by regulations that shall be 
                prescribed and published within 90 days after the date 
                of enactment of this section and without regard to the 
                requirements of section 553 of title 5, United States 
                Code; and
                    ``(B) take such actions as may be necessary to 
                publicize the availability of the program established 
                under this subsection for eligible mentors.
            ``(4) Funding.--Amounts available for the purposes of 
        making payments to lenders in accordance with section 437(a) of 
        the Higher Education Act of 1965 for the discharge of 
        indebtedness of deceased or disabled individuals shall be 
        available for making payments to lenders of loans to eligible 
        mentors as provided for in this subsection.''.
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