Michele Bachmann’s extended family of 23 former foster children have become the unexpected stars of the Republican primary even though few details are known about them individually. The Minnesota Congresswoman brings them up frequently in debates, speeches and interviews as a showcase for her commitment to family values.
But Bachmann’s personal devotion to disadvantaged youth may be at odds with her public record on foster care. Critics warn that her zeal for budget cuts threatens vulnerable youngsters, while a leading Congressman on the issue says she’s been AWOL on foster care policy.
Bachmann arrived at Congress right as the House was working on its first major legislation on foster care in over a decade, the Fostering Connections and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008. The brainchild of Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) and then-Rep. Jerry Weller (D-IL), the bill sought to improve life for foster children by encouraging placement with relatives, improving their access to health care, and keeping students in the same school when possible.
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