Tuesday, December 14, 1999


"Hillary and I, and this Administration, have made it a priority to help America's most vulnerable children...We cannot afford to give up on the future, and these young people are America's future - and our shared responsibility."

President Bill Clinton
Tuesday, December 14, 1999

Today, at the White House, President Clinton, joined by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, will sign a landmark law to help foster care youth prepare for independent living. The Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 will help ensure that young people leaving foster care will get the tools they need to make the most of their lives by providing them better educational opportunities, access to health care, training, housing assistance, counseling, and other services. This new law, based on an initiative proposed by the President and the First Lady, is the latest example of the Clinton-Gore Administration's longstanding commitment to children and families.

Challenges Faced by Foster Care Youth. Nearly 20,000 young people leave foster care each year when they reach age 18 without an adoptive family or guardian. Without the emotional, social, and financial support that families provide, many of these youth find themselves unprepared for life on their own. Studies show that within two to four years of leaving foster care, only half of these young people have completed high school, fewer than half are employed, one-fourth have been homeless for at least one night, 30 percent do not have access to needed health care, 60 percent of females have given birth, and fewer than one in five are completely self-supporting.

Providing New Hope. Under previous laws, federal financial support for young people in foster care ended just as they were making the transition to independence. The new law President Clinton will sign today authorizes $700 million over five years to help these young people cross this critical bridge. The law:

A Record of Commitment to Foster Care and Adoption. Today's new law adds to the Administration's record of promoting the well-being of children and providing them permanent, loving homes. Other actions by the President to improve child welfare and encourage adoption include:

The White House Briefing Room
The White House at Work Archives