Wednesday, March 9, 2011

State Sen. Jahn wants adults 18 to 21 to be considered children

The years between 18 and 21 can be difficult for a lot of young people to navigate, but for someone emerging from foster care, those years can make or break their future, says Sen. Cheri Jahn, D-Edgewater.

That’s why her House Bill 1079, which passed unanimously today in the Senate Local Government Committee, redefines the age range covered under the state’s definition of homeless youth to include 11- to 21-year-olds rather the current 15 to 18. The expanded age range would allow federal dollars to reach more youths in need.

Kippi Clausen, policy director of the Mile High United Way, told the committee that there are in fact an estimated 1,500 individuals all the way from 11 to 24 years old who are homeless in Colorado on any given day.

“These are a faceless group of kids that are out in the streets. We need to keep them safe,” said Clausen.

Jahn says that the added stability that prolonged support can provide can be a lifesaver to some of these kids, who, Jahn says, after the age of 18, “fall off a cliff” after they leave the foster care system.

“Helping kids get on their feet during this time of life is good for all of us as a society,” said Jahn. “It helps them put together a plan and put in place action to help them with that plan.”

Roberts said as an attorney she has seen firsthand the issues facing youth who lack a family’s support. She has served as a guardian ad litem in the court system.

“I’ve seen how challenging it is for these kids trying to enter into the adult world,” said Roberts.

Jahn said she believes that even though those kids have been swimming upstream due to circumstances beyond their control, they still can succeed.

“They can and should be able to do whatever they dream of doing,” said Jahn. “There’s no limitation on dreams.”

Via - Colorado News Agency

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