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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cedric's testimony requesting the restoration of TANF-IL funds

To the Chair and Members of the Committee;

My name is Cedric Riley. I am a former foster youth, a current youth advocate and founder of the Science in Motion Group LLC.

The reason that I am here today is to testify to the importance of restoring the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) earmark for independent living services for foster youth transitioning into adulthood.

I myself experienced six foster care placements over the course of eight years before my life was enhanced by the open hearts and willingness of my adoptive family to invest in me during the launching period of my goals.

Today, I am part of the Ready to Launch budget coalition that prioritizes funding for transition-age youth.

Ohio's 1,300 young people who "age out" of foster care each year dream of the day when they can say with dignity that they can rely on the governing body that serves as their guardians, but have petitioned and rallied and starved for that day. They are emerging from a welfare system that is broken and serves broken plates and promises to our calls for help.

It is becoming quite clear that the Government of the great state of Ohio does not intend to deliver adequate citizenship to our deserving yet oppressed youth. However, we continue to find crevices and spaces where we can survive, for yet another chance to request the opportunity for normalcy.

Through further reduction in the TANF-IL funding that we need to survive, we have been reduced to no major concern of our governing body and have been placed in a systemic paradigm of homelessness.

In the midst of a recession, we continue to digress on the promise of support and nurture to a starving population.

The investment of funds to prisons and preventative treatment programs is in vain, and will never equate to the loss of human capital that continues to force America's future backward.

We are witnessing the crippling of hope for the most powerful and capable citizens, who only insist on shelter and parental guidance.

Please consider my testimony as evidence that our youth feel neglected, burned and broken under the same flag that brings a sense of pride to Kindergarten classrooms.

We attend school with your children, we ride your buses and we patronize your businesses, please consider us equal and deserving of a funded and substantiated standard of living.

Please be our understanding stewards and share the gift of support as discussed during the 2008 Ohio Summit on Children as charged by our Governor Ted Strickland and Chief Justice Moyer.

I ask these things on behalf of young people from all 88 of Ohio's counties who are struggling to create a path from a gloomy tunnel. Bring to us the light of adequacy and consideration for funding and a long-term commitment to support our successful life outcomes for the betterment of American civilization and enhancement of Ohio leadership.

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