Published Online: March 3, 1999
Published in Print: March 3, 1999, as Children & Families


Children & Families

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Beyond Foster Care: The Clinton administration has proposed an increase in spending for programs designed to help foster children who are not adopted live on their own when they reach adulthood and leave the foster-care system.

Nearly 20,000 young people each year turn 18 or "age out" of foster care without being adopted. Studies show that those teenagers are often not prepared to live on their own.

Within two to four years of leaving foster care, only half have completed high school, research shows. In addition, fewer than half have jobs, one-fourth have been homeless for at least one night, 60 percent of the young women have given birth, 30 percent don't have access to necessary health care, and fewer than 20 percent can completely support themselves.

President Clinton's fiscal 2000 budget plan includes $280 million over the next five years to help such former foster children live independently.

First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Tipper Gore, wife of Vice President Al Gore, and Donna E. Shalala, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, announced the initiative at a recent White House event.

If approved, the president's budget proposals would be reflected in four separate programs.

First, spending for the Federal Independent Living Program would increase by 50 percent, with a total of $175 million being spent over five years.

The program, which is administered by the states, helps older foster children earn high school diplomas, receive vocational training or education, and learn such practical living skills as budgeting and finding housing.

Second, Mr. Clinton is proposing to spend $50 million over four years to provide short-term economic aid to former foster children while they are getting education and training. States would be able to compete for grants, which could be used to complement the independent-living program.

Third, the administration's budget includes $50 million over five years to provide foster-care alumni with health insurance. Under the Clinton plan, former foster children would remain eligible for Medicaid until they turned 21.

And fourth, the budget would raise spending for the Transitional Living Program by 33 percent, from $15 million to $20 million in fiscal 2000.

Through that program, local community-based organizations compete for federal aid to provide residential care, life-skills training, and other services to homeless adolescents, ages 16-21.

--Linda Jacobson

Vol. 18, Issue 25, Page 6

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