Jimmy Wayne is teaming up with Memphis Representative Mark White to help guide a bill through Tennessee’s legislation that will eliminate the sunset for the Transitioning Youth Act, a program that provides assistance to foster children between the ages of 18-21 after they age out of the foster care system. The bill is part of Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s legislative package, much of which deals with economic development and reforming government operations.
The program and legislation is a priority for Jimmy, who was a foster child and homeless at the age of 16. Jimmy walked from Nashville to Phoenix in 2010 as part of his foundation, Project Meet Me Halfway, to raise awareness about teenage foster children. He has been working with State legislators and members of Tennessee State government to advocate on behalf of foster youth.
“When I was a 16-year-old homeless kid, Bea and Russell Costner, who were in their mid 70s, gave me a home,” Jimmy said. “That kind of support and stability allowed me to go back to high school, on to college and also the chance to pursue my dream to be in music. Every child deserves the kind of support that Bea and Russell gave to me. I’m hopeful the great State of Tennessee will continue to provide its foster kids with that support.”
“I have studied this issue over the past few weeks and feel very strongly about making sure this program continues for teenage foster children,” Rep. White said. “Jimmy Wayne is a great example of what happens when young adults are provided a helping hand. Far too often, they are forgotten and left behind. We can do better than that in Tennessee and it’s an honor to be carrying such important legislation.”
“We need to continue the good work of this program and ensure we are giving the opportunity of hope for foster youth,” Speaker Harwell said. “Jimmy Wayne is a great leader and gifted spokesman for this issue because he knows the difference it can make. As lawmakers, we are here to change lives in a positive way. This is a chance for us to do what is right.”
Jimmy uses http://projectmmh.org to distribute information about Project Meet Me Halfway. The site allows users to study the issue of foster youth who age out of the foster care system. Jimmy will testify in front of the Committee on Children and Family Affairs about the bill on February 8.