On Amanda Huxoll's 19th birthday, her foster parents put her belongings on the porch and said she had to move out because they weren't receiving a check from the state anymore. She was two weeks shy of graduating from her Nebraska high school and had $1,700 in the bank from a part-time job.
Now 23, Huxoll said she wishes she would have had some guidance from an adult on how to transition into adulthood and college. She didn't know how to find an apartment, obtain health care or apply for college grants.
Lincoln Sen. Amanda McGill joined Huxoll on Thursday in asking lawmakers to help young adults as they age out of the foster care system. McGill has introduced a bill that would allow former foster children between the ages of 19 and 21 to receive assistance from the state. Other experts testified that nearly half of homeless young adults are former foster care children.
In Hastings, organizers of the Maryland Living Center believe the proposed bill would benefit youth currently targeted by their program. The goal of the MLC program is to help youth, 16-21, who are homeless or struggling to find stable housing transition into independent living. The building that will house the youths at Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue is scheduled to be completed by September, but the program already is providing some older foster kids with rent assistance, employment and other help.
MLC coordinator Lauren Slaughter said that if the state provided more support for youth until age 21, a wider range of youth could be helped. She said a number of them are either not part of the system or wards who don't want to continue being in the system.
"Our program would be able to focus on people who are not part of the system," she said.