Assemblymember Jim Beall Salutes Country Music Star Jimmy Wayne's Walk For Homeless Foster Care Youth

February 04, 2010
Contact: Rodney Foo @ (408) 282-8920

Assemblymember Jim Beall praised recording star Jimmy Wayne's "Meet Me Halfway" campaign for casting a national spotlight on the plight of homeless foster care youth.

Wayne, who grew up in foster care and group homes, embarked on his 1,700-mile trek on Jan. 1 in Nashville, Tenn. His final destination is Phoenix, Ariz. The singer's journey halfway across the nation aims to publicize the challenges the homeless face, especially for at-risk kids and young adults. Today, Wayne was trudging through wind and rain in Arkansas.

"I admire Jimmy Wayne's courage and determination to tackle a 1,700-mile journey in the middle of winter," said Beall, the chairman of the Select Committee on Foster care. "He's showing everyone what homeless foster care youth face once they turn 18 and transition out of the system with no support and no place to go. I wish him a safe journey and I hope to meet him someday and shake his hand."

The "events of the past 12 to 14 months have increased the number of people – especially children and young adults – without a safe place to sleep," Wayne said on his website, which chronicles his walk. "We, as a nation, have got to end homelessness and we've got to help these kids."

Despite dealing with blustery conditions and temperatures hovering in the 30s today, Wayne managed to twitter his network of friends and call KRTY, a San Jose radio station, to express his happiness over the progress of Assembly Bill 12, legislation introduced by Beall to extend foster care benefits to age 21.

The bill was approved in the Assembly with broad bipartisan support. It now moves to the state Senate.
By offering foster care support to age 21, AB 12 can nurture the education and careers of foster care youths who "age out" of the system..

There are more than 70,000 abused and neglected children in California's foster care system. About 4,500 are emancipated every year. Research shows one in four will be jailed within two years of emancipation; 20 percent become homeless. More than half are high school dropouts; only 3 percent get a college degree. Almost half are unemployed at age 21.

"If AB 12 becomes law," Beall said, "California can stop this slide by providing those young adults with a stronger foundation to become productive citizens just like Jimmy Wayne."