Country Music Star Jimmy Wayne Named National Spokesperson for Young People in Foster Care

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FosterClub, the national network for young people in foster care, taps musician and former foster youth to represent the half million young people in the foster care system

In celebration of May as National Foster Care Month, FosterClub, the national network for young people in foster care, has named Jimmy Wayne as it’s National Celebrity Spokesperson.

"We’re very proud to have Jimmy Wayne represent our organization and the half million young people in foster care," says FosterClub Director Celeste Bodner. "Millions have been touched by his songs, and I know that many more will be inspired by his personal story and commitment to improving life for foster youth."

For Wayne, who has topped the charts with singles like "Do You Believe Me Now," Stay Gone," and "I Love You This Much," the opportunity to serve as the national spokesperson for young people in foster care is personally significant. Wayne grew up in foster and speaks from personal experience about the importance of supporting foster youth, particularly those who are forced to make it on their own when they turn 18 years old and support from the foster care system is cut off.

While most young people celebrate their 18th birthday, the milestone represents a significant hazard for nearly 30,000 foster youth who will "age out" of foster care and be left to fend for themselves. When young people age out and are cut off from foster care services, they're more likely than their peers to end up in jail, on public assistance or pregnant. They're also less likely to have a job or go to college. A quarter will find themselves homeless.

“From my past, I know first hand what young people in foster care are facing. Young people in this country should not be faced with that kind of situation - especially kids who we’ve stepped in to care for when their families couldn’t," Wayne said. "If the bit of celebrity I have can help me raise awareness of this situation --that there are kids and young people out there who need our help, then I feel like I have accomplished my goal.”

Fortunately for Wayne, Bea and Russell Costner provided a second chance when they took him in at age 16. "Bea and Russell took a chance on me, and I was certainly no poster child," Wayne said. "I was this teenager with long hair and tattoos, but they saw past that to the scared kid I was. They offered me a place to live and the opportunity to go back to school. In turn, I had to meet them halfway by helping myself, which meant studying, doing chores and following the rules. They provided me with a way to help myself make a life. They gave me a home, love and respect."

Researchers say former foster kids who have someone to rely on do better than those who don't. A new study also shows that outcomes improve if young people are allowed to stay in foster care beyond age 18. Right now, only a handful of states extend foster care beyond 18. While several other states are planning to do so in response to a new federal law, state budget problems could put a crimp in those plans.

"Turning age 18 doesn’t magically make a person ready for life on their own as adult. Most American young people depend on their parents well into their 20s," says Bodner. "It’s not realistic to expect young people from foster care, who have often experienced significant trauma and instability growing up, to live independently earlier than their peers."

When it comes to supporting young people, Wayne walks the walk – literally. Earlier this year, he kicked off his Meet Me Halfway project, and began his walk halfway across the country to raise awareness of homeless children, teens and young adults who age out of the foster care system. “I'm not asking people to come out and walk with me, but I am asking them to meet me halfway by getting involved-- donate money, adopt a kid, learn more about the foster child/foster parent program in your local community,” says Wayne. “There's so much one person can do, and so many ways they can make a difference,” says Wayne. “It just takes one person to help someone to a better life."

How you can help

  • Support young people in foster care with a donation to FosterClub — Text the word “foster” to 85944 to make a $10 donation to benefit young people in foster care (charged to your cell phone bill). Visit http://www.fosterclub.org for more information.
  • Follow Jimmy Wayne in his effort — Follow Jimmy as he walks on his Meet Me Halfway campaign and learn more about the issues facing young people in foster care at http://meetmehalfway.jimmywayne.com
  • Get involved in National Foster Care Month — Each May, National Foster Care Month provides an opportunity to shine a light on the plight of hundreds of thousands of children and youth in the foster care system. Learn more at http://www.fostercaremonth.org.

About National Foster Care Month
Each May, National Foster Care Month provides an opportunity to shine a light on the plight of hundreds of thousands of children and youth in the foster care system. The campaign raises awareness about the urgent needs of these young people and encourages citizens from every walk of life to get involved – as foster or adoptive parents, volunteers, mentors, employers or in other ways. We call on all Americans to help change the lifetime of a child or youth in foster care. Learn more at http://www.fostercaremonth.org.

About FosterClub
FosterClub is the national network for young people currently in, or who have experienced, the foster care system. Every 2 minutes, a child’s life changes as they enter foster care. For more than 513,000 young people living in foster care across the nation, FosterClub is a place to turn for advice, information and hope. FosterClub’s website, publications, events and annual AllStar internship program offer the tools and resources these youth need to connect with one another, to share their experiences and insights, and to achieve personal success. For more information, please visit http://www.fosterclub.org.

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