Former Foster Youth, Representative Les Gara Speaks Out

Representative Les Gara spoke to the people of Alaska in January, calling for greater care to be given to foster children and youth. “Children are not a luxury project,” Gara stated to the Juneau Empire.

Recalling statistics from 2007 – 2011, with 40% of youth who age out of foster care being homeless, Gara calls on communities, businesses, government, and individuals to ramp it up and to bring more to foster children. To date, the state of Alaska has received donated laptops to help foster youth succeed in their educational experiences, have gotten businesses to discount their clothing for foster youth, and have started mentor programs so those in foster care can have a stable adult in their lives. But it’s time for more.

Alaskan domestic abuse statistics are higher than the rest of the country. In fact, nearly “twice as many Alaska youth suffer abuse and neglect than youth nationwide,” says Gara. The need for social workers is high. Yet with the workload being so great, social workers only last an average of two years before moving on. Additionally, foster homes are sparse when compared with the need.

As 2015 begins, Representative Gara calls on the people of Alaska to step up and focus more efforts on children and youth in need. The full story may be read at the Juneau Empire’s online site.