Governor Jack Markell signed legislation Sept. 18 to enhance support services that will better prepare youth in foster care for adulthood.
Several young adults in attendance at the bill signing helped draft House Bill 163, known as the “Ready by 21” bill.
“It is so important we allow these young people to have a direct say in decision making related to their lives,” said Governor Jack Markell. “Turning 18 can be difficult for any young adult, but for youth in foster care there are often additional hurdles they must overcome. By allowing them to identify the areas in which they need additional support and services, we’ll ensure they experience a smoother transition to adulthood.”
One of the key components of HB 163 is the formalization of financial assistance for youth exiting foster care. These needs-based stipends can be used for housing, bills related to housing such as electric, insurance, and transportation needs to name a few. The use of the funds will be monitored by the youth’s Independent Living (IL) services provider quarterly, and youth will be required to complete a financial literacy course.
“So many of our youth have incredible potential, but they need a helping hand,” said Jennifer Ranji, cabinet secretary for DSCYF. “This bill provides a way for us to formalize our support system so that we can assist with their transition into adulthood, in a way and at a pace that is most appropriate for each individual young person.”