Letter to the Editor: House Bill 1745 supports youth in foster care system

I am writing this letter regarding House Bill 1745, currently in the PA State House Education Committee. This fall I will be joining the Kutztown University freshmen class of 2022. Applying for college was one of the most difficult things I have ever done due to the lack of supports I had as a young person in the foster care system. I found myself depending on my Valley Youth House life skills counselor for the answers to many of my questions. I also depended on them for help navigating the financial aid process, including advocating for myself in the financial aid office at Kutztown when it felt like they did not care about my situation. I needed a co-signer (which was unavailable to me), had due dates for payments owing money that I did not have, had issues with housing and signing up for classes, and had to explain myself my situation only to be met with a lack of empathy or understanding.

Just like most youth going to college, I had to think ahead about all the other things I’d have to get in order; financial aid, loans, housing, where I live during the holidays or breaks, books and all that kind of stuff. House Bill 1745 would ease the process and worries for foster care youth that lack supports. This bill would also help me feel more comfortable about going to college and ease the process of dealing with telling my story again and again. This bill could help people like me focus energy into my studies instead of the long tedious hours spent trying to figure out where to get the last few thousand dollars to cover my tuition. As foster youth, we need financial stability, housing stability, and overall support, along with feeling “normal”. This bill will do all of that for us. Bottom line, this bill will give me and those after me the opportunity to make something of ourselves and continue our education.

- Chasity Gomez, Fall 2018 freshman, Kutztown University, Class of 2022