Mentors for Foster Care Youth
To encourage your Members of Congress to co-sponsor the Foster Care Mentoring Act (S. 420/ H.R. 2012)
Summary of Issue:
On any given day in America over 550,000 children and youth are in foster care. Between 18,000 and 20,000 youth aged 16 and older "age out" of the foster care system each year, meaning that they must now face life on their own. Studies have found that within 12-18 months after leaving foster care, the incidence of incarceration and public assistance was much higher for these youth than the general population. These young people desperately need a caring adult to stand by them through this difficult transition.
In response, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) introduced legislation that would help match more foster care youth with mentors.
July 19, 2011: Recently Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) introduced the Foster Care Mentoring Act in the House of Representatives. Sen. Mary Landrieu introduced it in the Senate in March.
We encourage you to write your House and Senate Members and ask them to co-sponsor this legislation. To contact your Members and ask for support of the Foster Care Mentoring Act, click here: http://www.capwiz.com/mentor/issues/alert/?alertid=51662526&type=CO.
March 09, 2011: MENTOR is supporting new legislation, aiming to connect foster youth with adult mentors, which was introduced recently in Congress by U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., and co-sponsored by Senators Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and Tim Johnson, D-S.D.
The Foster Care Mentoring Act of 2011 bill proposes to connect children in foster care with responsible, caring adults by:
- Authorizing $15 million to establish statewide foster care mentoring programs.States would be eligible to receive up to $600,000 to establish or expand a foster care mentoring program. These programs would be specially designed to serve the needs of foster youth and would have a strong emphasis on improving academic achievement.
- Providing $4 million to begin a national public awareness campaign and mentor recruitment program. The bill authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a nationwide campaign to raise public awareness of the need for foster care mentors and opportunities to get involved.
- Allowing up to $10,000 in federal student loan forgiveness for those who volunteer to mentor a child in care. Mentors who participate in a foster care mentor program would be eligible to receive up to $2,000 in federal student loan forgiveness for every 200 hours they serve. A total of $10,000 in student loans incurred by participating college or graduate students would qualify for forgiveness.
Landrieu’s office noted that there are nearly 450,000 American children in foster care. "Mentoring relationships can play an enormous role in helping foster youth reach their academic and personal potential," Sen. Landrieu said. "These youth, who have been moved from school to school and from home to home, lack stability and permanency and can learn to thrive when someone gives the energy and time to show that they care. It is our responsibility to ensure that these youth have the opportunity to build lasting relationships with adult role models. Whether these relationships are developed through natural interactions or through a mentoring program, they are rooted in trust and respect and have the potential to last a lifetime."
MENTOR’s former President and CEO Dr. Larry Wright said, “Quality mentoring can be a good fit for young people in foster care who need additional support and guidance in their lives. This legislation has the potential to reach those youth who might otherwise fall through the cracks and turn a potentially tragic situation into a productive and meaningful future.”
“We applaud Senator Landrieu’s efforts for this specific community, and MENTOR stands ready to help in any way needed,” Wright added.
For more information about the Foster Care Mentoring Act of 2011, go to http://landrieu.senate.gov/mediacenter/pressreleases/03-02-2011-1.cfm.