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Jill Atwood ReportingHave you ever stopped to wonder what happens to foster children after they turn 18? The reality is most of them have real problems. That's why the State of Utah has adopted a new program to help these teenagers transition into adult living.
The Division of Child and Family services has teamed up with folks here at workforce services. The big issue is getting these kids financially able to stand on their own two feet.
This morning Governor Olene Walker announced a new transition program giving former foster children the support they need -- meaning affordable housing, employment, transportation, education, mentoring, medical coverage, and the list goes on. The teens simply have to be willing to ask for the help.
Sadly, if these kids aren't given a chance, statistics show they will end up homeless or in our correctional institutions. Today a young man from Columbia who entered out foster care system at 17 described the difficulties he had.
Miguel Pena, Former Foster Teen: "It is hard to go out and have just one job with just little pay and have to afford insurance and rent and food."
The statistics of what has happened to these teens in the past are quite sobering. Sixty percent of the young women gave birth to children; only about half finish high school; ninety percent don’t have medical insurance; they are less likely to have a steady job and are more likely to be involved in drugs or alcohol.
We're told federal funding will be set aside for this program. This is also an issue being looked at nationally.
Also they are looking for mentors tonight--people to help push these kids in the right direction. For more information on this program give the Division of Child and Family Services a call.
Child & Family Services
Phone: (801) 538-4100
Fax: (801) 538-3993
120 North 200 West
Salt Lake City, Utah 84103