Group asks legislature for nearly $1 Million to bring back defunct DCFS program

Group asks legislature for nearly $1 Million to bring back defunct DCFS program

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - 18-year-old Kayana Bradley shared her story with the House Appropriations Committee.

"Under the circumstances of my mama being physically ill, my two sisters and I came into foster care. It was hard for me, being in foster care, aging-out at 18 and not being ready to be out on my own and be independent on my own," said Bradley.

Those who joined her at the Capitol Tuesday will tell you though, she's one of the lucky ones.

Bradley is a pre-med student at the University of New Orleans. After foster care, she received scholarships, and a New Orleans non-profit helped her get her first apartment.

But unlike her success story, LA Association of Children & Family Agencies says there are many more young people recently out of foster care who desperately need help.

"We haven't had a meeting where they haven't talked about kids who have become homeless," said Laura Jensen with the LA Association of Children & Family Agencies.

The group is asking legislators for $987,000 to bring back the DCFS's "Young Adult Program." Funding for YAP was cut two-years-ago. The program provided housing and guidance for foster care children after they turned 18.

If it remains absent, supporters say more than one in five Louisiana foster teens will become homeless, and just 58 percent will graduate high school.

"Those are obviously some pretty harsh statistics that we're facing for these youth, and we want to be able to give them any support that they need to be successful," said Dylan Waguespack with LA Progress Action.

After listening to them, the legislators then asked the group questions.

"When you did have some funding in your budget, did you keep the data to show the difference in what those students at that time were able to do as they aged-out?" asked Rep. Jim Fannin, (R) Appropriations Committee Chairman.

"I have no way of knowing that," answered Carmen Weisner, Executive Dir. of the National Association of Social Workers.

The House Appropriations Committee appeared enticed by the group's testimony, but members say they want more information before they may or may not give DCFS the money requested.

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