Local WKU student works to make changes to state tuition waiver program for foster children

BOWLING GREEN Ky.- The month of May is National Foster Care Awareness Month, a topic near and dear to the heart of Tyler Hunter, 22, who was adopted at the age of 16.

“I grew up in foster care, kinship care as well, and was adopted out, so it’s something that I have lived and experienced, and it’s something I’ve dedicated my life to on an advocacy group called Voices of the Commonwealth,” Hunter said.

Hunter along with his team traveled up to the state capitol in an attempt to garner support for Senate Bill 115, an act relating to the tuition waiver for Kentucky adopted or foster children. An already existing statute waived the tuition for Kentucky foster or adopted individuals. With the adjustment, those looking to receive those benefits will no longer have to rush to get their degree and the benefits will extend to graduate programs.

“My organization along with myself, we decided that we wanted to allow young people to have more flexibility to deal with things such as their mental health, emotional health, physical health,” Hunter said.

Governor Andy Beshear signed the bill into legislation on April 24. While Hunter and his team are passionate about this topic, Hunter still calls the outcome, unbelievable.

“I didn’t think it was going to happen to be honest. The session was very limited to 60 days, and we were passed that 60 day window. I was like, ‘oh my gosh, this is not going to work,’” Hunter said.

With the right connections, the goal was achieved.

“We were able to get it pushed through, shout out to Representative Steve Riley from Barren County, as well as our Senate sponsor Mike Wilson who is from here in Bowling Green,” Hunter said.

While Hunter is jumping for joy that he’s helped make a difference, he says there’s still work to be done, work that he will always stand up for.

“Maybe 10 years from now, it may need some more adjustments, but this is a start, and I’m so glad we didn’t let the movement die, and it’s just amazing,” Hunter said.

Senate Bill 115 will officially go into effect on July 24.