LISTEN: Former foster youth in Alaska push for repayment of benefits

Clockwise from top left: Tristen Hunter, Ethan Harvey, Malerie McClusky, Katrina Edwards, Mateo Jaime and Alex Carter. Each is owed benefits ranging from $700 a month to more than $20,000. (NPR)

When children lose parents to death, addiction or incarceration, sometimes the state becomes their legal guardian. An investigation by NPR and the Marshall Project has highlighted that many states, including Alaska, take the dependent child’s social security benefits, often leaving them with no money to help them when they turn 18 and age out of foster care. A class action lawsuit mounted by former Alaska foster youth challenging this practice is now underway.

HOST: Lori Townsend


  • Jim Davis, attorney, Northern Justice Project
  • Mateo Jaime, lawsuit plaintiff
  • Katrina Edwards, lawsuit plaintiff
  • Alex Carter, lead lawsuit plaintiff
  • Joe Shapiro, reporter, NPR



Call 550-8422 (Anchorage) or 1-800-478-8255 (statewide) during the live broadcast.

Send an email to (Comments may be read on air).

Post your comment during or after the live broadcast on social media (Comments may be read on air).

LIVE Broadcast: Tuesday, April 27, 2021 at 10 a.m. on APRN stations statewide.
LIVE Web stream: Click here to stream.

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Lori Townsend is the News Director for Alaska Public Media. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for nearly 30 years. Radio brought her to Alaska, where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting before accepting a reporting/host position with APRN in 2003. APRN merged with Alaska Public Media a year later. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. 

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