From 1853 to 1929, “orphan trains” carried homeless, orphaned children from large Eastern cities to small towns in the Midwest, where the lucky ones might be selected by a nice family that wanted another child.
Others struggled in their new environment and were often treated as indentured servants on the many farms that dotted the region. Even after the U.S. government derailed the controversial orphan trains and established the country’s foster care system, life for homeless children — especially the older ones — was still a struggle. These kids are the reason Project Meet Me Halfway was started.
Who We Are
As a product of the North Carolina foster care system, then eventually becoming homeless at the age of 16, country recording artist and best-selling author, Jimmy Wayne, made it his mission to improve the lives of foster children aging out of the system.
Jimmy’s goal is to provide these kids with a safe place to live and ensure they receive every opportunity to make a successful transition from foster care to adulthood. Jimmy established Project Meet Me Halfway, a 501 c 3, dedicated to building transitional homes for these youths.
Why We Care
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.†
What Else We Can Do
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. Donate today!
* Source: Courtney, et al., 2010 cited from the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative – Issue Brief #1
† Source: “Cost Avoidance: The Business Case for Investing in Youth Aging Out of Care,” Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, 2013.
‡ Source: NPR Report: “Foster Kids Face Tough Times After Age 18,” April 7, 2010, by Pam Fessler.
In 2012, Jimmy Wayne joined Tennessee state officials as the bill to extend foster care to age 21 was signed into law. Pictured left to right are Mike Kraski, Rep. Sherry Jones, Laura Bond, Sen. Doug Overbey, Gov. Bill Haslam, Jimmy Wayne, Rep. White, Heather Sczepczenski and Treasurer David Lillard.