NEWS: Back to School Laptop Drive Aims to Increase Foster Youth Success

Rep. Gara’s Office Helping to Coordinate Donations as Need Spikes in Alaska

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 15, 2015

ANCHORAGE – Today, Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage) and Facing Foster Care in Alaska(FFCA) are launching a “Back to School” laptop donation drive for foster youth.  The Laptops for Foster Youth effort works to match gently used and new laptop computers with the over 2,500 foster youth in Alaska.  To date, over 600 new and used laptop computers have been matched with foster youth since Rep. Gara and Amanda Metivier of Facing Foster Care in Alaska began this community effort.
“The good news is the community is generous and hundreds of lives have been improved,” said Rep. Gara, who grew up in foster care after his father was killed when he was just six years old.  “The challenging news is that the number of youth put into foster care has increased in the last few years from roughly 1,700 up to over 2,500 today.  We still have to rely on a generous community to help.”

(Rep. Les Gara and Facing Foster Care in Alaska co-founder Amanda Metivier were joined by former foster youth Gary Lose to purchase laptops December 18, 2014)

Foster youth in Alaska often have to move frequently with little contact with family and friends.  A laptop computer allows foster youth mobility and the ability to keep and store important data and memories.  Donated laptops also give foster youth tools that allow them to do better in school. 

“In the past few years Alaskans have been very generous with laptop donations, which have gone to over 600 foster youth,” said Facing Foster Care in Alaska co-founder Amanda Metivier.  “However, the need continues to grow.  That’s why we are asking for additional laptop donations during this back to school time.”

The Laptops for Foster Youth effort was started by Rep. Gara and Amanda Metivier five years ago to support Alaska’s growing foster youth population.  Research from the University of Alaska’s Institute of Social and Economic Research shows that children in Alaska are twice as likely to be in foster care as children nationwide. 

“Being in foster care should not mean, you have less than or feel less than your peers. Having a computer is an essential tool for not only academic achievement but for the tasks of daily living as well,” said Christy Lawton, Director of the Office of Children’s Services. “OCS is deeply appreciative to Representative Gara, the local non-profit Facing Foster Care in Alaska, and to every individual, family, and organization that has donated new or gently used laptops in the past several years.”

To donate a laptop computer with word processing and Wi-Fi connectivity please call Rep. Gara’s office at (907) 269-0106.  Facing Foster Care in Alaska will accept cash donations to purchase laptops.  All donations are tax deductible and can be made by contactingfacing_fostercare@yahoo.com.  Gently used laptops should have files cleared, all the necessary parts, and run at fast enough speeds that foster youth won’t be frustrated using them.

For more information, please call Rep. Gara at (907) 250-0106 or Amanda Metivier at (907) 230-8237.  Former foster youth Rachel Bedsworth is also available for comment if requested.  Bedsworth is attending the University of Alaska Anchorage after 46 different foster care placements.  She recently received the “Summer of Heroes” award for her work with foster youth and for overcoming the challenges faced by youth who grow up without parents.  Bedsworth is currently using a donated laptop as she makes her way through college. 

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