Yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden, Valerie Jarrett, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack welcomed over 100 current and former foster youth from across the country to celebrate several new announcements aimed at improving the outcomes of youth in and aging out of care. As part of this effort, the White House hosted the stars and creators of the new movie Annie to highlight the issue of foster care.
We know that in real life, we don’t have movie magic to make things better, which is why we’re working to help keep foster children safe and empowered through every challenge they face. And we also know that the experience of foster children in America ranges more broadly than could ever be captured on the silver screen. We hope yesterday evening’s event raises awareness about the issue of foster care and encourages more families to consider fostering or adopting.
The President and all of those in his Administration believe in the basic bargain at the heart of the American story – that every child should have a fair chance at success. And that, no matter who you are or where you’re from, if you’re willing to work hard and play by the rules, you should be able to make it. But we know that sometimes, by no fault of their own, some kids are dealt a more difficult hand.
We believe that every child deserves the love and support of a permanent home. On any given day, there are over 400,000 children in our nation’s foster care system with over 100,000 waiting to be adopted. Every year, 23,000 of these youth will age out of the system, never having found their forever families. We have seen that youth who age out of foster care without a permanent placement often face challenges with completing their education, unemployment, financial security and the criminal justice system. No child should feel like they need to “beat the odds” in order to get ahead, and they certainly shouldn’t feel like they are on their own as they try.
The Administration is deeply committed to ensuring that all youth have the opportunity to succeed. Yesterday's policy announcements included initiatives focused on protecting the financial security of foster youth, ensuring their educational success, creating clear pathways to employment, and keeping them out of the justice system. The announcements also included federal and state initiatives aimed at ensuring access to free school meals for those in the foster care system and preventing youth from entering the foster care system in the first place.
Since the beginning of this Administration, we’ve been working hard to create a better, more supportive foster care system — a system that increases the safety, permanency, and well-being of all children. This has been an all-hands-on-deck effort, working with multiple agencies across the Administration as well as the non-profit and philanthropic communities.
Foster youth, like all youth, do best with a permanent and loving family. In support of their new film, and all of the young people that experience foster care, Sony and the stars of Annie have created a PSA encouraging more families to foster and adopt. Yesterday’s event featured the world premiere of the PSA, which can be seen below:
Annie’s story has stood the test of time in this country because it focuses on the strength of the human spirit — and the feeling of joy that lifts up even our youngest children. And as we celebrate, we also reflect on the work that still lies ahead. Together, we can ensure that all young people have the opportunities and encouragement they need to realize their full potential.
To learn more about how you can make a difference, visit www.AdoptUSKids.org for information on how to become a foster or adoptive family.