“Last year, I received a meeting request from a group of former foster youth, and it was one of the most eye-opening, productive, and inspiring meetings I have taken during my tenure as secretary.
Not much stirs the soul like meeting young women and men who exemplify perseverance. These young Ohioans shared their firsthand experiences in the foster care system and the challenges they faced when exiting the already difficult circumstances — at the tender age of 18. Faced with homelessness, debt, abuse, and abandonment, these young people met obstacles head-on with determination, grit, and grace.
The purpose of our meeting was to discuss a top problem facing foster youth aging out of care: access to housing. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that more than 20,000 young people age out of foster care each year and nearly 25% find themselves homeless within four years. In a country as great as ours, this is unacceptable, so we decided to fix it.
These alarming statistics, coupled with the insightful conversation I had with these brave young women and men, drove us to action.”