2018-02-01 / News

Two Ruggiero bills are attached to Raimondo’s proposed budget

Legislation sponsored by Rep. Deb Ruggiero to establish grants for senior centers and to extend the maximum age for foster care has been included in Gov. Gina Raimondo’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2018-19.

Ruggiero, a Democrat serving Jamestown and Middletown, also introduced the measures in 2017. Both died in committee.

The first proposal, H-7098, would establish a community grant program to provide money to municipalities that operate senior centers. The governor’s proposal provides $400,000 for the grants in 2019. According to Ruggiero, the population of elderly Rhode Islanders is expected to grow from 152,000 to 247,000 in the next decade, which would represent about 25 percent of the Ocean State.

“As demographics shift in Rhode Island, we need to make senior policy issues a priority and focus on the programs and services needed for seniors in the years ahead,” she said.

Her second bill, H-7110, would allow Rhode Islanders to remain with the Department of Children, Youth and Families into adulthood. If enacted, the maximum age for state care would increase from 18 to 21.

“Most teenagers aren’t ready to be adults at the stroke of midnight on their 18th birthday,” Ruggiero said. “How many 18-year-olds are prepared and able to get an apartment, pay rent and take care of themselves?”

The legislation would create a voluntary program, supervised by the courts, of resources specifically designed for adults to advance toward self-sufficiency. This program is different from the services provided to minors. Twenty-five states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine, already have extended their systems.

“Any child who is in foster care has already experienced terrible struggles,” Ruggiero said. They deserve so much better than what we’re giving them when they age out of the system. They need a more gradual, prepared transition toward independence and it makes fiscal sense for the state to provide it. Let’s do what is right for our kids and our taxpayers.”

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