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OPINION: HB 972 — ‘Kids Are Our Future. If They’re Homeless, We Don’t Have a Future.’

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“Kids are becoming homeless every day. And it’s very sad, because our brains don’t start in full development until 21 or 22. So it’s kinda hard for us to grow up as fast as the system wants us to and we’re not ready for it. And our brains aren’t ready for it,” says Ann Campbell, a youth advocate and member of EmpowerMEent — an initiative founded by former and current foster youth in Georgia who work with community leaders to change the foster care system.

In this video, Campbell breaks down a piece of legislation that’s under consideration in Georgia this week as Congress wraps up its 2018 session. HB 972 is a bill proposed by six representatives extend care to “youths between 18 and 21 years of age under certain circumstances,” among other things.

Campbell is one of several youth advocates who say if this bill were passed into law it could help a lot of teens and young people avoid experiencing homelessness.

According to Foster Focus magazine:

“• Approximately 400,000 youth are currently in foster care in the United States. Approximately 20,000 of those youth age-out each year without positive familial supports or any family connection at all.

• Within 18 months of emancipation 40-50% of foster youth become homeless.

• Nationally, 50% of the homeless population spent time in foster care.”

Campbell says this bill would hold DFCS case workers accountable for ensuring supports for young adults until they’re ready for independence.

She suggests teens – and anyone – can support foster youth by advocating for this bill.

  • “Look up your state senator by zip code.” Here is a link that shows how to contact your state representative. “You can email them, you can call them,” Ann said.
  • You can also register to vote if you’re 17 and one-half or older. The deadline for registering before the next primary is April 24. Here’s the link:  registertovote.sos.ga.gov/.

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