Country music artist Jimmy Wayne made an appearance on Capitol Hill today, addressing a House committee in support of legislation aimed at providing assistance for young adults once they age out of the foster care system.
Actually, it’s a bill to preserve legislation with that goal. Rep. Mark White’s HB2337 would remove the repeal date on the Transitioning Youth Empowerment Act of 2010.
Wayne told the committee his story of becoming homeless at the age of 13 when his mom and stepfather dropped him off on the side of a highway in Pensacola, Fla. and left him there. Years later, he was taken in by an elderly couple, whom he lived with for 6 years. Harrowing as his childhood story was, he said he was luckier than many of his former foster care brothers and sisters.
“At 18 years old, no child should ever transition out of foster care without at least minimum resources,” Wayne said. “As long as they’re meeting us halfway.”
Wayne, who has a foundation that focuses on the issue, spoke after a Vanderbilt student who had become homeless after turning 18 and leaving the foster care system.
White, a Memphis Republican, said that, by telling his story, Wayne personalized the issue for legislators.
“Jimmy has lived this. he’s grown up in foster care and he has a personal story,” White said. “I could have talked about this all day long and it would not have had the personal effect. That’s what we want everyone to understand, that these are real children, these are real lives that are at stake.”