From left: Joshua Oswald, House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta, House Speaker Todd Huston and Jordan Otero launch a donation drive for foster youth. (Whitney Downard/Indiana Capital Chronicle)
Some young adults who’ve recently aged out of Indiana’s foster care system will get household supplies – and possibly more – from House legislators through a partnership with the IARCA Institute for Excellence.
On Tuesday, House leaders for both parties launched the donation drive ‘Fostering Hopeful Futures,’ which aims to create 100 gift baskets for those leaving the foster care system as young adults.
“We see and care about these young Hoosiers who spent years – maybe even their entire lives – in foster care and now face the challenges that come with starting life on their own and doing it all without a family support system,” House Speaker Todd Huston said. “Our goal is to lift up and encourage each of these young people to help them pursue their dreams.”
Baskets will include kitchen and household supplies, including: towels, oven mitts, plastic cutting boards, plastic dinnerware, stainless steel silverware, throw blankets and more.
House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta, in an accompanying release, noted that leaving the foster care system came with its own challenges that made it difficult for youth to establish a permanent home.
Former foster youth across the state would also receive a localized resource list to help the young adults on their journey to independence, according to IARCA policy manager and foster care alumnus Joshua Oswald.
Jordan Otero, another alumnus, named some of the challenges facing youth in the foster system, such as getting their legal documents or driver’s license, enrolling in automobile insurance or getting mental health services.
“And, most importantly, (youth struggle) with ‘What comes next?’ Many of us did not have any relational permanency,” Otero said. “We also go without the… support we need.”
Huston said that while lawmakers will assemble kits, IARCA will have the responsibility to recruit foster youth as recipients, some of whom may meet legislators to share their stories.
“It’s great to offer donations – we’re grateful, thankful and blessed for donations – but it’s creating those relationships with people and understanding what their needs are,” Huston said. “Whether that’s helping them get a good job or (mentoring).”
Those interested in donating can drop off items at bins in the Statehouse outside of the House Chamber – which will be located on both the third and fourth floor.
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