Friday, April 20, 2012

Support the Expansion of the Adoption Temporary Taxpayer Identification Number

As the primary voluntary caretakers of children in foster care, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows foster parents to claim the children in their care on their federal taxes. However, in the past decade, in an effort to prevent divorced parents from both claiming children on their taxes, the IRS has begun requiring all parents to provide the children’s social security numbers on their tax forms. According to a senior IRS official, this has resulted in a dramatic decrease in “double dipping” by divorced parents.

This new requirement has inadvertently prevented foster parents from claiming children in their care on their federal taxes because the Social Security Administration has a memorandum of understanding with states that prevents the states from sharing social security numbers with foster parents in an effort to protect children’s privacy. Foster parents cannot claim children without access to social security numbers. This means that any birth family member with the child’s social security number may claim the child on his taxes and there is no way to track or stop this. Only when a counter claim is made by the person actually providing the daily care for the child can the situation be investigated.

This oversight in the regulations needs to be changed to ensure that a child’s actual caretaker, rather than a person who simply has access to the child’s social security number, receives the tax benefit. Fortunately, there is a straightforward solution that will fix the situation: expand the availability of Adoption Temporary Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ATIN) to foster parents.

ATINs are routinely issued by the Internal Revenue Service as temporary taxpayer identification numbers where the pre-adopting taxpayers will be adopting within the next two years and do not have and/or are unable to obtain the child’s Social Security Number. Allowing foster parents to request and receive ATINs would eliminate the need to obtain the child’s original social security number and permit foster parents to legitimately and appropriately claim tax deductions for children in their care. It would also protect the children’s privacy by limiting access to their social security numbers. This simple change would increase tax fairness for foster families, protect children, eliminate fraudulent claims by non-custodial parents and would not have a large federal fiscal impact.

Sarah Gerstenzang, NFPA's Region 2 Advisor

Monday, April 9, 2012

Learn more about tuition waivers for Oregon's foster youth

In 2011, Oregon passed a new law (SB 243/HB 3471) that provides tuition waivers to the state's foster youth. The concept was inspired by the Oregon Foster Youth Connection, a group of current and former foster youth working to improve the child welfare system in Oregon.

To increase awareness for the tuition waivers, Children First for Oregon has created downloadable fact sheets for foster youth, foster parents, child welfare workers, colleges or anyone interested in sharing the news among Oregon's child welfare population.

You can visit the following links for more information:

Children First for Oregon Fact Sheets

Oregon Foster Youth Connection

Below are direct links to the fact sheets:

Tuition Waiver General Info

Tuition Waiver Info for Youth

Tuition Waiver Legislative Fact Sheet

Please help spread the word among Oregon's foster youth that an educational opportunity awaits them.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Difference between discipline and punishment, part 2

What is discipline?
Discipline is guidance. When we guide children toward positive behavior and learning, we are promoting a healthy attitude. Positive guidance encourages a child to think before he acts. Positive guidance promotes self-control. Different styles of discipline produce results that are different. Discipline requires thought, planning and patience.

The use of discipline is a process of thinking and trying. Remember, effective discipline:

  • Is good for both parent and child
  • Teaches a child to take responsibility for his or her behavior
  • Helps parents maintain a warm relationship with the child

The goal is to teach the child how to behave, not to make the child suffer.

What is punishment?
Punishment is usually hitting, spanking or any type of control behavior that is used to stop a child from misbehaving. Punishment does not teach children how to use self-discipline. It only stops misbehavior for that moment. Punishment may fulfill a short-term goal, but it actually interferes with the accomplishment of your long-term goal of self-control.

Punishment may take many forms:

  • Physical -- Slapping, spanking, switching, paddling, using a belt or hair brush, and so on.
  • With words -- Shaming, ridiculing or using cruel words.
  • With activities -- Locking a child in his or her bedroom, forcing child to sleep on the floor because he or she wet the bed.

This is taken from The Parenting Web by Dr. Louise Davis, as printed by the Circle of Parents.

Stay tuned for more on the differences between discipline and punishment...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Difference between discipline and punishment, part 1

Continuing the theme of Child Abuse Prevention Month, we're tackling the difference between discipline and punishment, as shared by Circle of Parents.

Punishment and discipline are different in what they do and how they are done. Look at the chart below to see how discipline not only corrects current behavior but helps the child develop good behavior in the future. Punishment, on the other hand, just stops bad behavior now and doesn't help a child learn how to behave correctly.

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow...

Monday, April 2, 2012

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

Children Learn What They Live

If children live with criticism,
They learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility,
They learn to fight.

If children live with ridicule,
They learn to be shy.

If children live with shame,
They learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement,
They learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance,
They learn to be patient.

If children live with praise,
They learn to appreciate.

If children live with acceptance,
They learn to love.

If children live with approval,
They learn to like themselves.

If children live with honesty,
They learn truthfulness.

If children live with security,
They learn to have faith in themselves and others.

If children live with friendliness,
They learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

by Dorothy Law Nolte
Copyright © 1972/1975