Rep. Roberts foster care bill passes

Democratic State Rep. Mary Helen Roberts got a bill passed on the final day of her last legislative session, a bill that extends state foster-care services to former foster children who are working at part-time jobs for at least 80 hours per month.

Roberts said Sunday that such former foster children often need help with support for housing.

The bill came as Roberts prepares to leave the legislature after her announcement that she won’t run for re-election in the August primary or November general election.

The bill, which had appeared dead as the legislative session neared its final day March 13, passed when the State House of Representatives accepted some minor amendments in the Senate version of the bill.

The bill passed after a the Senate Ways and Means Committee considered it on the final afternoon of the session as one “necessary to implement the budget” because it appropriates money and allows the State to get federal matching funds.

Roberts went to Olympia last week to watch Gov. Jay Inslee sign the bill.

The bill is the fourth bill on extending foster care that Roberts has pushed to passage in her 10 years in the legislature.

The first gave state support to foster children over age 18 who are finishing high school or a secondary-school-equivalent program. The second extended those services to former foster children who are attending college or a post-secondary vocational program or are preparing to start such a program. The third extended services to former foster children who are participating in programs or activities to promote employment or remove barriers to employment.

Roberts leaves the legislature with one proposal left to pass, one that would help former foster children with medical needs. She said that money hasn’t been available for that purpose. She added that she is confident that others, both in and out of the legislature, would push her unfinished business.

Roberts represents the 21st Legislative District, including most of Edmonds, unincorporated areas north of Edmonds and Lynnwood and northeast of Lynnwood, all of Mukilteo and part of south Everett.

She serves on the House committee on early learning and social services, the Judiciary Committee and the Rules Committee, and is vice chairwoman of the Public Safety Committee.

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