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Indiana's foster children at risk if federal funding is halted

Foster care advocates are asking for help protecting important funding that gives Indiana's youth a better shot at a life they deserve.

INDIANAPOLIS — Some of our state's most vulnerable residents face an uncertain future as Congress debates government spending.

There are more than 31,000 kids in foster care across Indiana. Many of them could lose much-needed support if federal money doesn't come through.

Foster care advocates are asking for help protecting important funding that gives them a better shot at a life they deserve.

Josh Christian Oswald spent 18 years in foster care, shuffling through 18 different homes.

He was finally adopted at age 23 by his case manager and he graduated from college, which is a challenge for many foster kids.

"I think today I feel very content. Growing up, I say it's very lonely when you're in foster care," said Oswald.

He didn't do this without help. He is one of the thousands of young people benefiting from federal funding that extended help during the pandemic to people between 23 and 27, who aged out of foster care.

"For me and this bill, I have been able to get a new car. I got a laptop recently, and I've been able to obtain a voucher," said Oswald.

Now he's worried he and other young adults will lose this valuable help if the government doesn't extend the funding that is set to expire on September 30.

"We are going to have thousands of thousands of young people that will no longer be able to receive these federal dollars. This means they can become homeless" said Oswald. 

Maggie Stevens with Foster Success is working with Josh to advocate and support foster kids, especially in the wake of the pandemic, and a growing need.

"I think what we are interested in is making sure there is not a sudden cliff, where young people who have been leaning on the Department of Child Services and other organizations in this state are not without resources," said Stevens.

Dejuna Rodriguez also works as a foster care advocate, after aging out of the system and struggling with homelessness before she was 22. She said this money makes them feel seen and gives them an opportunity to grow.

"It's forgotten that all kids need to learn from somebody. In foster care, you're just going, going, going. Sometimes there's no sense of stability or who to trust to learn from," said Rodriguez.

Oswald is asking Hoosiers to call your representatives and senators to ask for an extension and support the foster kids around the country.

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