Press Release
January 24, 2011


Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago today called for stricter rules in foster care to protect foster children from abuse or negligence.

Senate Bill No. 2486, also known as the Foster Care Act, is currently being debated upon in the Senate plenary. It was authored by Senators Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, Manny Villar, Pia Cayetano, Francis Pangilinan, Ralph Recto, and Franklin Drilon.

Santiago takes exception in the definition of "family" in the bill. Under SB No. 2486, the family refers to "the Parents and relatives of the Child within the fourth (4th) degree of consanguinity or affinity, including, but not limited to, the Child's ascendants, uncles, aunts, brothers and sisters."

According to the senator, the above definition runs counter to the definition of "family" under the Family Code.

"In any law that concerns the family, the definition of 'family' in the Family Code should always be followed," she said. "Hence, pursuant to the Code, 'family' only refers to the parents, ascendants, and brothers and sisters, whether of full or half-blood, of the child. Any person not falling within this classification should get a license to foster the child."

Santiago said the State should exhaust all means to find a home for the child with his/her family members, whether that home is a permanent one through adoption or temporary one through foster care. If placement within the child's extended family is not possible, only then should the child placed for adoption or even foster care by non-relatives.

Santiago added that the bill should ensure that the prospective foster parent is fit to take care of a child.

"It is not enough that a foster parent should be of legal age and at least sixteen years older that the child to be placed in foster care. The parent should be more mature than the child and can credibly carry out the responsibilities of a parent and demand obedience of the child," Santiago said.

The senator suggested that the bill should provide for a section on the Rights and Duties of Foster Parents. Further, foster parents should not be allowed to use corporal punishment to discipline their foster children.

"We should make sure that foster parents are able to provide the child under their care the love, understanding, and security as if they are of their own flesh and blood," Santiago said.

The bill provides for a monthly subsidy given by the government to a foster parent to cover the foster child's basic needs. In this light, Santiago wants the bill to put a limitation to the number of children a foster parent may foster.

"This limitation ensures that the principal motivation for an individual to become a foster parent is not to earn a living but to give a home to a child. Further, given that parents, including foster parents, have a myriad of responsibilities, they ought not to be distracted by too many obligations," Santiago said.

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