TRUCKEE, Calif., Sept. 8, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- iFoster (www.ifoster.org) announced today that H.R.5947, the "Improved Employment Outcomes For Foster Youth Act of 2016" was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen McDermott (D-WA), Reichert (R-WA), Davis (D-IL), Reed (R-NY), and Doggett (D-TX). A Senate companion bill will also be introduced by Senator Casey (D-PA). This bill amends the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to include transition age foster youth as categorically eligible for purposes of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). Employers may be eligible to receive a credit of up to $2,400 annually for each foster youth hired.
"We are so grateful to Congressmen Jim McDermott, Dave Reichert, Danny Davis, Tom Reed, Lloyd Doggett, and Senator Bob Casey for supporting our collective efforts to provide life-changing employment training and job opportunities for foster youth" said Serita Cox, iFoster's Executive Director. "In its first pilot year, the iFoster Jobs Program has trained and matched over 150 transition age foster youth to well-paying jobs with Employment Partners in pilot States. This employer tax credit is an important incentive to help provide jobs to many more transition age foster youth to help them become successful independent adults."
Congressman Jim McDermott commented, "The outcomes for transition age foster youth in this country are heartbreaking: nearly half are unemployed at age 24; half will spend time in a homeless shelter; and 70% will be reliant on government assistance after emancipating from foster care. The federal government has both an economic and moral interest in improving this grim reality for foster youth. In 2008, Congress passed the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, which recognized the challenges faced by youth transitioning out of foster care by enabling them to continue to receive support services until they turn 21. In authoring that bill my goal was not to extend dependency on the foster care system, but rather to use the additional time spent in extended foster care to help these youth become independent. While extended foster care is providing a critical lifeline for thousands of youth across the country, more needs to be done to help these youth connect with career opportunities and attain self-sufficiency."
Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY) stated, "We care about our foster kids and want to give them every opportunity to reach their highest potential. This bill is part of that process. This proposal provides a simple adjustment that encourages businesses to hire these kids, which breaks a cycle of dependence, and often a lifetime of poverty. It's only right that we do our part to stand with our foster kids as they mature into adulthood and enter the workforce. As a member of the Congressional Foster Care Caucus, we are proud to support this bill."
The iFoster Jobs Program is a public / private partnership that matches employer partners with entry-level positions to foster youth who are specifically trained, appropriately resourced, and effectively supported to succeed in their jobs. iFoster currently works with 12 large employers with thousands of entry-level career opportunities. iFoster and its training partners assist foster youth by providing job skills training, necessary concrete resources, job coaching, scholarships / tuition reimbursement opportunities, and first-in-line access to jobs with career advancement potential. iFoster helps employers by providing a pipeline of pre-qualified potential hires that helps reduce the cost and time associated with hiring and employee turnover. The program is working effectively, with over 150 youth hired in the first year and 90% retention rate after 6 months on the job compared to a 30% average industry retention rate. The iFoster Jobs Program will grow substantially in its second year, expanding to new areas and new Employer partners.
"Stable employment is one of the most important opportunities we can give to transition age foster youth" said Yali Lincroft, Program Officer for the Walter S. Johnson Foundation. "This legislation is a testimonial to successful public / private partnerships, and has the potential to help thousands of youth aging out of the foster care system achieve independence."
Speaking to the food retail industry's support of this legislation, Food Marketing Institute (FMI) President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin highlighted the ability of the nation's food retailers to empower youth through providing employment opportunities and vocational mentoring. Sarasin said, "The grocery industry welcomes the opportunity to regionally pilot the iFoster program. Long known for their community support and commitment to neighborhood endeavors, grocery stores offer a logical and nurturing environment for youth entering the professional world and looking for a clear trajectory for their careers."
For information on the iFoster Jobs Program or how to utilize this tax credit, please contact Deb Cromer at 530.550.8001 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
iFoster is a leading non-profit organization dedicated to providing life-changing resources that aid vulnerable children and youth. iFoster programs are free and can be found at www.ifoster.org to members of the foster, adoptive and kinship communities; youth who have emancipated out of the system; and the organizations that support them.
Deb Cromer, iFoster