New bill would help foster kids keep in contact with their siblings if they get separated

A new bill would keep Oregon foster kids in touch with their brothers and sisters if they were to get split up during the process.

Right now, if siblings are separated in foster care, they don't have any rights to keep them in contact with each other. House Bill 2216 would change that.

A House Committee on Human Services and Housing heard from a number of former foster kids Thursday, many of whom were separated from their siblings as children.

Alexis Baska was put into foster care as a child, separated from her two younger sisters.

“It was tough, all I wanted was my sisters,” Baska said. “I had very maternal instincts with my siblings and that was very difficult when I had to have no contact with them."

The separation caused depression and anxiety for Baska.

“Your whole life is turned upside down... not only yours, but your siblings' too, and to not have them to talk to or comfort each other is huge,” Baska said.

It was a similar story for Danno Mannino and her sister -- which is why they teamed up with Oregon Foster Youth Connection.

“I had a really close relationship with my sister but we were separated during foster care and so my hope would be with the passing of this bill that more siblings can be placed together or they can have better quality visitation,” Danno Mannino said.

Mannino and Baska testified in front of a House committee advocating for House Bill 2216, which would allow siblings rights in the foster care system.

“It’s important to keep siblings in contact because they are your best friend birth,” Baska said.

While the new bill won’t help Mannino and Baska, their hope is to make the future better for other siblings in foster care.

“I think keeping in contact with my siblings would have helped reduce the trauma, anxiety and depression I endured,” Baska said.

The group submitted amendments for the bill Thursday and expect the committee to vote on the bill next week.

Watch Thursday's Public Hearing:

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