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Office of the First Lady

For Immediate Release January 29, 1999


January 29, 1999

Today at the White House, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, accompanied by Mrs. Tipper Gore and Secretary Donna Shalala, announces that the President's FY 2000 budget will include $280 million over five years in new support for young people who leave our nation's public foster care system at age 18 without an adoptive family or other permanent relationship.

Foster Care Youth Reaching Adulthood Face Tough Challenges. Nearly 20,000 young people leave foster care each year having reached the age of 18 without an adoptive family or other permanent relationship. Today, federal financial support for these young people ends just as they are making the critical transition to independence. Without the emotional, social and financial support that families provide, many of these youth are not adequately prepared for life on their own. Studies show that within two to four years of leaving foster care, only half have completed high school, fewer than half are employed, one-fourth have been homeless for at least one night, 30 percent did not have access to needed health care, 60 percent of the young women have given birth, and less than one-in-five are completely self-supporting.

New Support For Youth Leaving Foster Care. The President's FY 2000 budget will include $280 million over five years to provide a framework for enhanced federal support to these young people:

Increasing the Federal Independent Living Program by 50 Percent. The Independent Living Program, run through the States, assists older foster care children to prepare for independence by helping them to earn a high school diploma, participate in vocational training or education, and learn daily living skills such as budgeting, career planning and securing housing and employment. Since 1992, the program's funding has been frozen at $70 million. The President's budget will increase the program by 50 percent, investing $175 million over five years in these services.

Offering Time Limited Economic Support. Young people often transition from foster care with no economic support. The President's budget will include $50 million over four years to create new competitive grants to States to complement the Independent Living program services by providing time-limited financial support for these young people as they develop the skills and education needed to move into the workforce. Providing Health Insurance. Today, when young people emancipate from foster care, they face numerous health risks, but too often lose their health insurance. The President's budget will propose that these young people remain eligible for Medicaid up to age 21. His budget will include $50 million over five years for this purpose.

Increasing the Transitional Living Program. The President's budget will include a 33 percent increase in the Transitional Living program, which provides competitive funds to local community-based organizations for residential care, life skills training, and other support services to homeless adolescents, ages 16-21. The program is currently funded at $15 million; the President's budget will increase that funding by $5 million for FY 2000.

                        ON FOSTER CARE AND ADOPTION
                             January 29, 1999

Today's announcement builds on a deep commitment by the President, the First Lady, and the Administration to facilitate adoptions and improve the child welfare system. Since taking office, President Clinton has championed efforts to make foster care work better for the children it serves, to find and assist adoptive families, and to break down financial, racial, geographic and bureaucratic barriers to adoption: