U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and former First Lady Melania Trump outlined their agenda to support America’s foster children and youth in a new Fox News op-ed. In addition to offering solutions to improve care for all foster children, they also presented a path to equip older children with skills and resources they need to succeed as adults.
“Across the country, thousands of children entrusted to the foster care system are searching for direction, answers, and hope — and America must deliver,” write Congresswoman Walorski and Mrs. Trump.
For several years, Congresswoman Walorski and Mrs. Trump have partnered together to support American foster kids, youth, and families. With Mrs. Trump’s advocacy, Congress passed Rep. Walorski’s legislation, the bipartisan Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act, to provide timely, commonsense relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In their new op-ed, Congresswoman Walorski and Mrs. Trump outline achievable goals to support and equip vulnerable children and youth in the foster care system, such as reauthorizing federal programs set to expire this year, investing in workforce development for older foster youth, removing barriers to relative caregiving, and expanding access to care to ensure that every foster child has a safe home.
“This May, we ask Americans to join us in marking National Foster Care Month by helping children and youth in foster care and by celebrating all — from foster parents and caregivers, coaches to community volunteers — who stand by them,” they continue. “Together, we can uplift children in the foster care community and foster a brighter future.”
Congresswoman Walorski, who serves as the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Worker and Family Support, is a leader in child welfare issues, including foster care.
Read key excerpts of their op-ed below.
A stronger foster care system is a stronger America
Rep. Jackie Walorski and Former First Lady Melania Trump
May 3, 2022
Foster care protects children, strengthens families, and builds a better future for our Nation’s youth. We must work together to build a framework for long-term economic stability and success — including for older foster youth and those aging out of the foster care system.
Our support must include preparing children to succeed as adults. We must equip these young Americans with the skills they need to reach their full potential through economic empowerment, and especially through expanded access to resources in the fields of science, technology, and the trades.
The 20,000 youth who age out of foster care each year must have the tools to develop professional skills to thrive as adults. We’ve made great strides by moving toward prevention-focused services, but it’s crucial to ensure we do a better job of preparing foster youth for a successful transition to adulthood.
Nationwide, 2.7 million grandparents are raising their grandchildren, a seven percent increase since 2009. Of these grandparents, about one-fifth have incomes that fall below the poverty line. We must do better in supporting these relative caregivers. We know, both from intuition and evidence, that keeping children with relative caregivers is generally the best possible situation.
Given the nationwide shortage of loving, safe families for children, we must build on public-private partnerships that work – including religious child welfare providers. Our goal is always to provide certainty and support for all children.