Senate Bill 213 has been signed into law by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and with it, changes are in store for youth aging out of the state’s foster care system. Lex18 of NBC has more from Governor Beshear on what this bill means for Kentucky’s foster youth:
“These are some of our most vulnerable kids – those who are moving from state-sponsored care to the responsibility of adulthood, and we must give them the best chance for a successful transition,” Gov. Beshear said. “In my administration, we have supported legislation to improve the lives of Kentucky children, and this is no different. Kentucky must lend a helping hand to these young people, especially at such a critical juncture in their lives.”
The bill’s changes include raising the cut-off age for foster care benefits from 18-years-old to 18 and six months. Furthermore, the state will give foster youth until the age of 19 to decide if they want to receive extended state housing and health benefits through the age of 21. The state’s Department of Health and Family Services will also provide more support and information to help foster youth consider their options.
These changes started as the brainchild of Kentucky non-profit True Up, a youth-driven organization committed to helping young people in foster care successfully transition to adulthood. One of their leaders had this to say:
“Good things can happen when adults listen to kids,” said Chelsea Hoover, leader in True Up and a 19-year-old student at Jefferson Community and Technical College. “Because our leaders in Frankfort listened to us, more foster youth will make better decisions about continuing their education and succeeding on their own.”
The bill’s sponsor, State Senator Ken Winters, summed up his hopes for the legislation and hit on an important point to keep in mind:
“There are so many well-meaning foster kids who want to do well and just do not know how,” said Sen. [Ken] Winters. “It is my hope that SB 213 will provide a new lease on the rest of their lives.”