Vice President Joe Biden stopped by a White House screening of the new remake of the film Annie, and outlined a number of steps that will be taken by the Obama administration to assist youth who are aging out of foster care.
“Some of you have been hurt by system, but are willing to reach back. That’s what makes you the most remarkable,” Biden told an audience that included current and former youths from the Washington area, along with Annie co-stars Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhane Wallis.
“Tough experience makes you stronger or weaker, you hardly ever stay the same,” Biden continued. “Staying engaged, you found you can make it better.”
“We appreciate Vice President Joe Biden’s participation and remarks as they elevate this important message across the nation,” said Becky Weichhand, executive director of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. “CCAI looks forward to continuing to support the White House in their efforts to find permanent families for every child in foster care.”
Biden’s office also announced yesterday a handful of measures the administration would take to assist youth who turned 18 in foster care:
- The Department of Health and Human Services will conduct a series of town halls in 2015 about implementation of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, and will use those sessions to establish a technical assistance program for states.
- HHS has issued a letter to state child welfare agencies highlighting the benefits of checking credit for foster youth of all ages, the benefits of more frequent checks and the importance of ensuring that every child in care receives a credit check.
- The Departments of Agriculture, Education and HHS issued a joint letter outlining outlining the “categorical eligibility of foster children” under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 for free school meals without the submission of a household school meal application.
- The HHS Administration on Children, Youth, and Families has released a toolkit designed to “provide caseworkers, independent living skills providers, foster parents and other supportive adults with strategies and resources to critically evaluate and improve their current ability to promote financial capability for youth in foster care.”
“We are taking some positive steps today, but there is more we need do,” Biden said.
Biden was joined by his daughter, Ashley, who in November became director of the Delaware Center for Justice. She was a social worker for the state’s Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families before joining the center in 2013.
John Kelly is the editor of The Chronicle of Social Change.