Monday, September 5, 2011

Senate approves Foster Care Act

September 5, 2011, 5:08pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate has approved on third and final reading the Foster Care Act of 2010, a measure giving tax breaks to foster parents and donor agencies that put a premium on homeless children.

Senate Bill no. 2486, authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Sen. Pilar “Pia” Cayetano, aims to establish a system that would promote foster care for homeless children by giving foster parents and donor agencies tax incentives.

“Foster care” is defined by the bill as the provision of planned temporary substitute parental care to a child. The bill seeks to address the lack of institutions in the country that attend to the needs of abandoned and neglected Filipino children.

In order to qualify as a foster parent, a person must be of legal age and must meet a set of qualifications to prove that he or she is of good moral character, and capable of providing for the needs of the foster child.

During her sponsorship speech, Cayetano stressed the need for government to give attention and consideration to foster care as a preferred way of caring for homeless children as opposed to the current practice of placing them in institutions, such as orphanages and youth centers.

“Studies show that foster care creates a better living environment, and develops better individuals as opposed to institutional care,” Cayetano said.

“Through foster care, children are given more attention and care in a home setting, thus providing them with more opportunities for normal, mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical growth,” she added.

Once it is enacted into law, Estrada said, the government will provide assistance and tax incentives to foster parents, child-caring agencies and donor institutions.

The bill grants foster parents medical insurance through the Philippine Health Insurance (PhilHealth) if they are non-members at the time of foster care. They will also be provided with counseling, training on child care and development, skills training, and livelihood assistance.

Foster parents are also entitled to personal tax exemption, and additional exemptions for dependents. The Department of Welfare and Development (DWSD) will also see to it that the foster child will receive monthly support.


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