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Berkley Highlights Need for Passage of Legislation to Aid Nevada Homeless Youth, Teens Leaving Foster Care

Press Release

Location: Las Vegas, NV


Congresswoman Visits Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth Drop-in Center; Meets w/Directors, Valley Youth

Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV) today visited the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth (NPHY) "Safe Place" Drop-in center at 4800 S. Maryland Parkway to discuss the need for passage of H.R. 4208, The Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act. The Berkley legislation will extend the safety net for youths age 16-24 -- including those too old to qualify for foster care benefits -- as a means to prevent homelessness and to help these young men and women with education and employment opportunities, healthcare and other vital needs.

"These young adults are among the most vulnerable of our nation's citizens and we must do all we can to prevent youth homelessness and to assist those who are aging out of foster care or who have chosen to leave home. By providing early support to youth in danger of becoming homeless or those who are already on the street, we can help these young people get back on track and in permanent housing," said Berkley. "My legislation extends assistance for individuals up to age 20 and increases funding for the federal Chafee Foster Care Independence Program to help those aging out of the system who lack a support network of their own. And it expands the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to give employers incentives to hire these homeless young men and women. The Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act also amends the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to improve access for teen parents with children," said Berkley.

"I also want to commend the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth for their dedication and service to the families of our community. They provide invaluable assistance and help to change lives for the better here in the Las Vegas Valley," said Berkley.

Joining Berkley at Thursday's event were local Valley youth served by the NPHY, along with the organization's Executive Director, Kathleen Boutin, and Deputy Director, Matt Hirsh. Participants who met with Berkley emphasized the need for more resources to prevent homelessness and to help young Americans who are making the transition to adulthood, including teens no longer eligible for foster care benefits at age 18. During her visit, Berkley presented NPHY with a certificate honoring the organization for winning a 2008 Mutual of America Community Partnership National Merit Finalist Award.

As a member of the Powerful House Ways and Means Committee, Berkley is working to pass her legislation in order to focus more resources on preventing youth homelessness in the Las Vegas Valley and across the nation.

Highlights of H.R. 4208: The Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act

• Expands eligibility for foster care, kinship, and adoption assistance to youth through age 20, this will allow more kids to stay with their foster or adoptive families long enough to finish high school or other training before transferring into the work world.

• Clarifies TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) rules to better address the needs of teen parents:

For example the bill allows for alternative living arrangements for those under age 18 that are unable to live at home. Also creates a "transitional compliance period" allowing dropouts or homeless youth to receive assistance while they work towards complying with complex eligibility rules.

• Increases authorized funding for the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program to $200 million a year and expanding eligibility through the 25th birthday. This will provide a helping hand to those who age out of foster care so that they can more smoothly enter the workforce.

• Adds homeless youth as a target group for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. This credit will provide an incentive for employers to hire homeless youth, thereby helping them to enter or re-enter the workforce.

• Requires states to document steps taken to find permanent placements for foster kids. States must also have established plans that ensure youth in their custody are discharged into stable and appropriate housing so there is less dander that they will run from these placements

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