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Testimony: Public Hearing on Foster Youth Employment Act 2012

Children’s Law Center’s policy director Sharra Greer testified before the DC Council’s Committee on Human Services regarding the Foster Youth Employment Amendment Act, which would give a hiring preference to young adults currently in or emancipated from foster care. Read a summary below or review her full testimony as submitted to the Council.

A large proportion of the youth we provide services to are in the foster care system. Older youth in foster care face tremendous hurdles on the path to adulthood, and they are at risk for negative outcomes in several areas. “Although this legislation does not attemtp to address the root causes of the difficulties that older foster youth face,” Greer testified, “it takes an important step toward increasing their opportunities as they move into adulthood.”

Greer shared the story of a client, “Denise,” who entered foster care at age 16 and moved from one group home to another. As a high school junior Denise became pregnant, but she was determined to finish school – waking before sunrise to take her daughter on the bus to daycare, and then another two buses to school. Denise’s mother reappeared in her life at this point, but she had serious disabilities. Even while caring for both her mother and daughter, Denise obtained her high school diploma at 20. She enrolled in a vocational training program but was unable to complete it as she missed days to care for her family, and she has not been able to find a job. Denise’s experience is all too common in DC and nationally. The Foster Youth Employment Amendment Act will help Denise and other young adults like her to become productive, independent adults.