House lawmakers create home kits for former foster youth
From left: Joshua Oswald, House Speaker Todd Huston and House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta pack bags to donate to foster youth. (Whitney Downard/Indiana Capital Chronicle)
Roughly 150 foster youth living independently for the first time will soon get a little help from House lawmakers.
Following the donation of over 3,200 items, legislators gathered Tuesday to pack bags of household supplies for foster youth across the state – including kitchen towels, spatulas, dishes and more. The event, co-hosted with the IARCA Institute of Excellence, seeks to give former foster youth a support in their early adulthood.
House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta said that though the House annually hosts a charity drive, this one held a special significance.
“In the past, we’ve collected items and off they go,” GiaQuinta said. “It’s been really fun because we… actually get to see and interact with them.”
House Speaker Todd Huston highlighted that personal connection between foster youth and lawmakers – saying their support was a crucial focus.
“We want these kids to know that there are adults who care about them, who want to see them be successful,” Huston said. “They deserve our support.”
Jordan Otero, who left the foster system at the age of 20 a few years ago, said he’d had a similar gift in his young adulthood that made a difference in his independence – especially since foster youth can’t own much while shuffled from place to place.
“It was good to have my own stuff for once so I know these kids are really going to prize that,” Otero said. “You never know what you need until it’s right in front of you. I never would have imagined it’s easier to flip chicken with tongs… it’s stuff you never knew that you would need.”
Joshua Oswald, another foster care alumnus with IARCA, said “there are hundreds of young kids that age out of care annually without traditional support from family members. I think it’s going to go a long way for these young people.”
The kits will be distributed through partnership agencies – such as The Village of Indiana, in western and northeastern Indiana; Geminus Regional Health System in the northwest; and United Methodist Youth Home in Vanderburgh County.
Partners will receive kits matched with a local foster graduate in need.
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