NASHVILLE, Tenn. –– State Senator Doug Overbey (R-Maryville) today applauded an announcement made by Governor Bill Haslam on Thursday to extend services to all young adults who “age out” of the state’s foster care system. Overbey said this move will make Tennessee the first state in the nation to give all children in foster care special services as they transition into adulthood.
“This is a tremendous achievement to help these youth as they transition into the workplace or pursue post-secondary training or education,” said Senator Overbey. “These young adults already face many challenges. This critical program will provide them with the assistance they need to live full and productive lives.”
Overbey sponsored Tennessee’s Transitioning Youth Empowerment Act which made permanent a successful temporary program that provides assistance to foster children between the ages of 18-21 once they age out of the foster care system. Before, the state provided little or no further services to youth upon reaching their 18th birthday.
“These young people hit a brick wall upon turning 18 before these services were in place,” added Overbey. “Studies show that these services have been very successful in providing them with more opportunities to live successful and fulfilling lives. However, it has a secondary impact on our bottom line in terms of societal costs, including the impact it has on early pregnancy, their earnings potential and incarceration costs.”
The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative organization reports that 40 percent of young people who were in foster care became homeless or without a stable living situation at least once since exiting foster care and that many were homeless multiple times. Those remaining in care until age 21 doubled the odds that young people would be working or in school at age 19. Young women remaining in care experienced a 38 percent reduction in the incidence of pregnancy before age 20.
Haslam said the state will provide $3 million more dollars to the program, which will be matched by private funds raised by Youth Villages, a not-for-profit which provides services to transitioning youth.