By Maia Johnson
Ohio House Bill 50 is a bill which will, if passed, extend governmental support to emancipated foster youth until age 21. It passed through the Ohio House of Representatives on December 1, 2015, and will now be referred to the Senate, then to be potentially signed by the governor.
38-year-old Kimberly and 25-year-old Paijhe are former foster youths themselves and struggled with the reality of emancipation from the foster care system. With nothing but broken homes to look to for support, they struggled to make it on their own.
Paijhe shares: “I, like, had to support myself. My mom, my biological mom, didn’t want to be a part of my life, so I was pretty much by myself. I felt more or less lonely. My thought process was that I had to figure out a way to survive in the first place.”
With no support whatsoever, Paijhe turned to joining the army. “The hardest part was job-wise, like, finding financial stability and not being homeless and stuff. I was really focused on how I was going to make ends meet, even though I didn’t have this sense of stability.”
Kimberly, a single mother, struggled financially immediately as well. Though her former foster family offered limited support, it was neither emotional nor financial. So she got through it all on her own and, as she shares, will continue to be in debt for the rest of her life. When asked why she supports House Bill 50, this is what she said:
“I think that with House Bill 50 being established, so many youth will have a fair chance at being able to thrive and succeed in college and be able to move on and aspire for their goals and not be held back by a system that has held them back by not giving them what comes normal for most college students. Like when they get moved in and they know they’re going to have a place to go home for spring break or winter break, and if they need something they can pick up the phone, or if they succeed or get the grades that they want they might be taken to dinner or given a new iPhone. But for former foster youth, they may not have a single person that’s going to even acknowledge that, hey, you did a great job. So I think that by the state making this bill a reality, it’s sending a strong message to youth that they have a promising future and that they can do what other college students can do.”