Country music artist Jimmy Wayne has urged the church to foster children, urging that Christians can “solve the problem” of those kids in need of a home. “If someone has an extra room in their house, help a kid,” Wayne said,” as reported by the Tennessean. “If you have extra money, donate it to an organization that’s helping these kids transition into adulthood. If you don’t have money, you have time.”
Wayne, who was in and out of the system himself, has talked openly about being homeless as a teen, and has made a priority of his career to raise awareness about children in foster care, especially those who are aging out of it.
In 2015, over 20,000 young people aged out of foster care without permanent families. Research has indicated that those who leave care without being linked to families have a much higher likelihood than youth in the general population to experience homelessness, unemployment and incarceration as adults.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, there are nearly 428,000 children in foster care in the United States. In 2015, over 670,000 children spent time in U.S. foster care.
“We need all of them to get involved to help these kids who are living right around the corner,” Wayne added.
Wayne has spent much of his time touring around churches in the US, encouraging them to pioneer fostering programs to help meet this important need. While some congregations are keen to engage with this pressing issue, Wayne said that he is frustrated by the man believers who seem to only pay lip-service to such a solvable problem.
“Churches say, ‘Well, I’m not called to do it.’ Well, you are called to do it. It’s in Scripture. You don’t get to pick and choose,” Wayne said.
In his book, “Walk to Beautiful,” Wayne talks of his own fostering experience and how it profoundly changed his life. He also recalls his 1,700-mile walk halfway across the U.S. which he completed to raise awareness for fostering. More recently, Wayne released his third book, “Ruby the Foster Dog,” in which details adopting a puppy at the start of his trek.
“She was in a shelter. She needed to be adopted and loved. I thought, ‘Wow, that’s as basic and as simple as it gets,’ ” Wayne said. “That’s what these kids need.”
Jimmy’s non-profit fostering organization, Project Meet Me Halfway, was founded out of his remarkable feat of endurance:
“Seven months and 1,700 miles later, Jimmy completed his journey at Home Base Youth Facility in Phoenix. But he didn’t stop there. Jimmy’s next steps took him to the state capitols of California and Tennessee to share his story on the Senate and House floors. Both states passed bills to extend foster care to age 21,” the website shares.
“Many states have already begun extending foster care services beyond age 18. Federal resources are available but more needs to be done. These kids need a place to live and you can help.
In addition to donating to Project Meet Me Halfway, we urge you to vote for politicians that are passionate, proactive and currently pursuing legislation to help these children.
Jimmy invites you to “meet him halfway” and help these kids.”
The Project also highlights some of the key statistics regarding those who transition out of the foster care system – these numbers should spur us to action:
“What happens to the more than 30,000 young adults transitioning out of the foster care system each year? For those that don’t get help, the statistics are heart-breaking:
- 25% will become homeless after age 18.‡
- 25% will not receive their high school diploma or GED, compared with only 7% of the general population.*
- 50% will be unemployed.‡
- 75% of girls will have been pregnant.‡
- 80% of males will have been arrested.*
- 60% of males will have been convicted of a crime.‡
- For every young person that ages out, taxpayers and communities pay an average of $300,000 over that person’s lifetime in social costs.†”
In Wayne’s native state of Tennessee, more than 8,600 children are in foster care in Tennessee, according to Monroe Harding, a Nashville-based nonprofit that provides support for the kids.
“Many of these kids are in horrible situations that just need a little bit of help,” Wayne said. Considering the vast number of churches across the state, Wayne is convinced that if Christians work together, they really can come up with the goods – to house, love and nurture those kids who so desperately need it.
“We could solve the problem,” Wayne said. “We could help all of the kids in the foster care system in the state of Tennessee.”