Note from Rep. Gara: Foster Youth Mentors Needed At Big Brothers/Sisters; Adoptive & Foster Parents Needed Too

I consider it good news when there are ways to help people. Many years ago, when I started working to improve our foster care system, I listened to youth, and learned I had it all wrong. Or partially wrong. One thing they made clear was that foster care isn’t all about, well, just improving the foster care system. It’s about what happens when a youth leaves the system, has no reliable parent, and has no reliable adult to turn to for advice. In prior years statistics have shown high post-foster care homelessness (approx. 35%) and incarceration rates (approx. 20%) and we all want to do better.

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ADVISORY: Governor Walker to Sign Important Foster Youth Success Legislation

Juneau – Alaska Governor Bill Walker is scheduled to sign House Bill 27 during a ceremony Tuesday afternoon at the University Center in Anchorage. The bill, sponsored by Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage), passed the Alaska Legislature unanimously earlier this year. H.B. 27 will make significant reforms to help improve the lives of foster youth in Alaska.

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NEWS: Alaska Legislature Passes Foster Youth System Reform and Protection Bill

Juneau – Today, the Alaska Legislature passed House Bill 27 to make significant reforms to help improve the lives of foster youth in Alaska. The bill, sponsored by Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage), includes provisions to get youth into stable, permanent, loving homes and out of foster care, where youth often bounce between a dozen or more homes.

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Note from Rep. Gara: A Helping Hand: Our Holiday Laptops For Foster Youth Drive

I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!
I’d like you to know about our Holiday “Laptops for Foster Youth Drive”, which has become even more important with the alarming increase in the number of foster youth in Alaska, from less than 1,800 five years ago to over 2,800 today. The following press release lets you know about many ways you can help, from donating a laptop, to becoming: a foster youth mentor through a program we started at Big Brothers Big Sisters; a foster parent; or an adoptive parent for a foster youth.

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

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.

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Note from Rep. Gara: Money Losing Rockets, State Election Guide Attack Ads, & Neglected Children Who Aren’t “Interesting” Enough News

Only in Juneau could you have a $3.5 billion deficit, while some who view themselves as “fiscal conservatives” claim we should keep running a money-losing rocket business that sits idle seven days a week most weeks of every year. Here’s the difficult thing: you could fire every state employee, every trooper, every social worker and, well, everyone, and only cover roughly half of the deficit. We have to be smart about our budget, and cut things that are not smart. Unwise spending of finite state funds means we will not be able to afford the things that create educational opportunity, protect children from neglect and abuse, and protect the economy from a sea of unemployed people.

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News: Foster Youth Jail, Homeless, Education Numbers: A Call for Attention

Anchorage – Today, two former foster youth, Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage) and foster care advocate Amanda Metivier, released sobering numbers for the growing number of Alaska youth in foster care. They are also calling for attention to the over 2,400 foster youth for which the state is the legal guardian.

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