Members Spearhead Bipartisan Legislation to Spur Hiring of Foster Youth

Statement

Congressmen Dave Reichert (R-WA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Danny Davis (D-IL), Tom Reed (R-NY) and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today introduced the Improving Employment Outcomes for Foster Youth Act (H.R. 5947) which provides federal tax incentives to private sector employers who hire youth transitioning from the foster care system to independence.

The Improving Employment Outcomes for Foster Youth Act will make transition age foster youth categorically eligible for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), an existing federal credit that provides incentives to businesses to hire employees from certain populations with specific employment challenges. In doing so, this bill will help encourage employers to hire and invest in our nation's foster youth and starting them on a successful career path.

"One of the best gifts you can give someone is hope for a better future -- and that is exactly what this bill does," said Rep. Reichert. "Our foster children have endured hardships most kids never have to face and can be at a disadvantage when entering the job market. By giving them the tools to be independent, this bill helps provide foster youths with the opportunity to live productive and successful lives."

"The outcomes for transition age foster youth in this country is heartbreaking: nearly half are unemployed at age 24; half will spend time in a homeless shelter; and 70% will be reliant on government assistance after emancipating from foster care. The federal government has both an economic and moral interest in improving this grim reality for foster youth. In 2008, Congress passed the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, which recognized the challenges faced by youth transitioning out of foster care by enabling them to continue to receive support services until they turn 21. In authoring that bill my goal was not to extend dependency on the foster care system, but rather to use the additional time spent in extended foster care to help these youth become independent. While extended foster care is providing a critical lifeline for thousands of youth across the country, more needs to be done to help these youth connect with career opportunities and attain self-sufficiency," said Congressman Jim McDermott.

"Our proposal seeks to expand opportunities to work for our foster youth who have already overcome so many challenges. Investing in the success of our foster children will not only reduce unemployment, but will also lessen homelessness, incarceration and other negative outcomes that cost society much, much more," said Congressman Lloyd Doggett.

"We care about our foster kids and want to give them every opportunity to reach their highest potential. This bill is part of that process. This proposal provides a simple adjustment that encourages businesses to hire these kids, which breaks a cycle of dependence, and often a lifetime of poverty. It's only right that we do our part to stand with our foster kids as they mature into adulthood and enter the workforce. As a member of the Congressional Foster Care Caucus, we are proud to support the bill," said Congressman Tom Reed.

H.R. 5947 is strongly supported by a number of prominent national organizations, including iFoster, the Food Marketing Institute, the John Burton Foundation, Public Counsel, the Alliance for Children's Rights, and the County Welfare Directors Association of California. Senator Bob Casey filed companion legislation in the Senate.


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