On September 26, the Senate approved, by unanimous consent, a bill (S. 1451) to reauthorize funds for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and a program to assist homeless children. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved S. 1451 the day before.
Sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the bill would authorize $10 million for the center through FY2008 and $105 million for FY2004 for the establishment of centers to provide shelter, protection from sexual and other abuse, counseling, and related services to runaway and homeless youth under 18 years of age. The House approved comparable legislation (H.R. 1925) in May (see The Source, 5/23/03).
S. 1451 also would authorize local groups to open “maternity group homes” for pregnant, underage girls who are homeless or have been abused. The bill defines maternity group homes as “community-based, adult-supervised transitional living arrangements that provide pregnant or parenting youth and their children with a supportive and supervised living arrangement in which such pregnant or parenting youth are required to learn parenting skills, including child development, family budgeting, health and nutrition, and other skills to promote their long-term economic independence in order to ensure the well-being of their children.”