FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 11, 2016
ANCHORAGE — For the past month, Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage) has been on what he quips is a “World Tour in His Own Car”, pitching to large and small groups how they can help with Alaska’s exploding numbers of neglected and abused foster children. Just five years ago, Alaska had fewer than 1,800 foster youth. Today, that number has exploded to over 2,800. Rep. Gara is working to help these children to succeed and not face continued excuses and neglect.
“When people hear how much harm and how much neglect these children are suffering, they want to help,” said Rep. Gara, who grew up in foster care after his father was killed when he was six. “Today, with a dire shortage of foster and adoptive parents, foster children get bounced from one temporary home to another. Longer term, loving, stable foster and adoptive homes are a great need. There are also range of easier things, through volunteer initiatives we’ve started, that people can do that will help make a difference.”
Rep. Gara’s next stop will be the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce today at noon at the Dena’ina Center. In the last month, Rep. Gara has travelled to community councils, and the East, Hillside, Gateway and Midtown Rotary Clubs. Rep. Gara will be at the Downtown Rotary meeting on Tuesday.
“I don’t have the patience to sit still and wait for the state to fix everything, or believe that it can. There are a lot of things we can all do to help as individuals and as volunteers,” said Rep. Gara, who has spearheaded and co-sponsored a number of foster care reforms aimed at helping youth succeed. “I feel obligated to try and help because the statistics are alarming. 40% of all foster youth end up homeless or couch-surfing at some point after foster care and 17% that end up in jail. The state is the legal guardian of children it takes from their homes and, as a guardian, I want these children treated like their peers in healthy, supportive homes.”
At today’s and subsequent events, Rep. Gara will have handouts available on how people with large and small amounts of free time and energy can help young people in foster care in Alaska.
For more information, contact Rep. Gara at (907) 250-0106.