Gov. Matt Bevin unveils first step in reform of foster care and - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Gov. Matt Bevin unveils first step in reform of foster care and adoption system

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin says the state's foster care system is a mess, and Tuesday, he unveiled his first step toward reform.

It's a program called Fostering Success, designed to help young people in the foster care system get a jump start on life and career.

One of those youngsters is Duke Brown, who at age 13, was removed from the custody of his drug-addicted mother and bounced through several foster homes.

“I had an attitude problem. I realized that 'You were not my mom, and you were not my dad.' I went with that, and it got me kicked out of a lot of houses,” Brown said.

Brown says a tough but caring football coach helped changed his attitude and his life.

“I would probably have on an orange outfit. A lot of people in my family are in that position,” he said.

But now Brown is in the first group of young people in the state's new Fostering Success program.

One-hundred men and women, either in the foster care system or recently aged out between the ages of 18 and 23, will get summer jobs.

They'll work in state Community Based Services offices.

“We really want this to bridge the gap for them. We hope that this could be a potential link for additional educational or employment activity,” said Adria Johnson, Commissioner of the Dept. of Community Based Services.

Gov. Bevin says the program is part of a larger effort to reform the foster care and adoption system.

Bevin and his wife Glenna adopted four children from Ethiopia after first being rejected for a domestic adoption.

“It was so difficult. It was so time-consuming. It was so convoluted. It was so bureaucratic. It was so expensive. It was so painful, in many respects,” Bevin said.

Bevin says his goal is to cut the bureaucracy and put the focus on the kids.

“Streamlining it, simplifying it, and allowing the people who come to work here to pour the bulk of their time and energy into these young people,” he said.

Those in the Fostering Success program will have mentors and help them either getting into college or prepare for vocational training.

“I want to learn how to be in an office setting. I want to learn how to be professional, “ said Jennifer Lanning, who is also taking part in the program.

Brown says he wants to help the program succeed and benefit kids in the same place he was 10 years ago.

“I want to make sure that the people coming after me have a situation to go to. I want to make sure the people who come after me have a program to go to in the summer,” Brown said.

The program is federally funded, and future plans are to offer more private-sector jobs and vocational training in apprentice programs.

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