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Cardoza hopes bill will boost opportunities for foster children

More than half a million children in America's foster care system have few options when they turn 18. "Their health coverage is terminated, and with little or no family support many of them end up homeless, unemployed, or in jail," said Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D-CA). "They have the same hopes and dreams as all other children in America, but they have a harder path to realizing their dreams."

To make that path a little less rocky, Cardoza has proposed a bill that will encourage businesses to offer internships to students in the nation's foster care systems. By giving these kids a chance to see how the workforce operates, Cardoza hopes many will be motivated to join it themselves.

"It encourages employers to look twice at these remarkable young people," said the Atwater native.

House Resolution 1332, the Fostering Employment Opportunities Act, is based on the internship model used by the Orphan Foundation of America. Each year, the foundation's InternAmerica program helps students in foster care find internships on Capitol Hill.

The Merced County Office of Education has started a similar job placement program for foster youth. During the 2007-08 school year, eight Valley Community School Merced students participated in the TEAL — transition employment and life skills — program.