This toolkit exists to empower foster care youth, alumni and allies throughout the nation to schedule district visits with their federal legislators, and share the need for housing supports for former foster youth until age 25.
1.) Who are my legislators?
- Here’s a link to find out. You can put in your zip code.
- We are also trying to reach specific legislators from specific states.
- If you live in that state, please reach out to them.
2.) How do I schedule a meeting?
You can call and make an appointment, and say something like this:
“Hi, my name is __________ and I am a constituent of your district. I am calling to schedule a meeting with your office regarding important issues related to housing and child welfare. Is Congressman/Senator [NAME] available to meet with me on [DATE]? If not, could you let me know some dates that he/she or a staff person might be available to meet? Thank you so much for your time.”
3.) How can I prepare for the meeting?
You will want to read over, and be familiar with these Talking Points.
If you want to know more, it might help to look at:
– the online petition
– a statewide youth board’s Letter of Support
– Federal Testimony on behalf of a foster care alumna
– a Detailed Support Letter from the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare
4.) What information should I bring to the meeting?
You can print a copy of the Talking Points and the Turner bill summary, and give them to the legislator and/or their staffer.
5.) How can I follow up after the meeting?
You will want to keep a copy of their business card, and write a thank you letter afterwards. Please keep us posted, and know that we are here to support.
Be Aware of Research
Midwest Longitudinal Study
Chapin Hall has conducted a Midwest Study that followed more than 700 young people from Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois as they aged out of foster care and transitioned to adulthood. This longitudinal studies checked in with participants at ages 17 or 18, 19, 21, 24, and 26 about their current status in terms of education, employment, housing, justice system involvement and physical and mental health.
The Midwest Study has generated valuable information regarding:
- Homelessness During the Transition From Foster Care to Adulthood
- Predictors of Homelessness in the Transition From Foster Care to Adulthood
- Youth Homelessness and Vulnerability: How Does Couch Surfing Fit?
Chapin Hall’s Midwest study affirmed that the foster care population has characteristics which demonstrate a very high probability of homelessness. The costs of preventing post‐foster care homelessness through life skills preparation and post exit support, is far less than the cost of subsequent homelessness.
Challenge of Solvable Proportions
That homelessness is a common experience awaiting these youth is particularly troubling because it is avoidable. It is a challenge of solvable proportions. Both child welfare and homeless services systems can do more to prevent foster youth from becoming homeless.
Latest Data from HUD
The diagrams and quote below are from HUD’s 2018 Annual HomelessAssessment Report to Congress.