INDIANAPOLIS — Concern is rising for young adults who've aged out of Indiana's foster care system.
These adults have counted on federal funding for help, and it goes away soon. A funding program is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2022.
For the past two years, Josh Oswald has been relying on federal funds to meet his needs during the pandemic.
He's a foster child who aged out of the system and said that government money was key. "I was able to obtain a laptop, gain some funding for transportation and a vehicle and a housing voucher," said Oswald.
In the U.S., 20,000 foster kids age out of the system every year. That means they leave foster care without family or any kind of support. Now they have just over four months before their assistance funds are cut off.
Many advocates fought hard to save it.
"It's frustrating. It's heartbreaking," said Maggie Stevens, president and CEO of the nonprofit Foster Success. "The discouragement will probably come in the fall when I see the real impact of it. But that's also what fires me up every day to keep fighting for it," said Stevens.
Foster Success has already seen an increase in young adults requesting access to their emergency and basic needs funds to help close the gap and prevent them from becoming homeless. Stevens fears the need will only escalate.
"A lot of them are struggling with the inflation we are seeing around us and some of the other challenges that are around us without the support system their peers have," she said. "They don't have parents to fall back on. They don't have the option to move back home when their rent goes up $200 a month," said Stevens.
That's why Foster Success is urging lawmakers to support foster kids of all ages.
"We want to make sure there is awareness and support and especially for the older foster youth that they aren't forgotten when they leave the system," said Stevens.
Although Oswald is concerned about the expiration date on Sept. 30, he sees this as an opportunity for Indiana to make a difference.
"Historically, our system has had an inadequate infrastructure. We can rebuild that. I think we've learned how to do that in this time. I'm excited to see what Indiana plans to do next for the young people in the good old Hoosier foster care system," said Oswald.