An Update from Executive Director Sally Fairman About How NFYI is Shifting to Support Current/Former Foster Youth During the Coronavirus Crisis
I hope you’re staying safe. I wanted to send you an update on some exciting activities that NFYI is conducting in response to COVID-19, and what we have in the pipeline. Also, we have an important update to our next virtual town hall: Our National Foster Care Month kick-off with Rep. Jim Langevin on Friday, May 1 will now begin a half-hour earlier at 12:30pm PT/3:30pm ET. If you’re a current/former foster youth, I hope that you can join us for this important conversation on how coronavirus is affecting our community and how Congress can help. Get signed up here.
WHAT NFYI IS DOING
- VIRTUAL TOWN HALLS
In lieu of our annual Congressional Shadow Day, NFYI has urgently brought together a bipartisan audience of Congressmembers with current and former foster youth in weekly virtual town halls to make sure foster youth have a voice in coronavirus support and economic recovery.
At NFYI’s April 24th town hall, the third in our series, Rep. Don Bacon, Congressional Representative from Nebraska and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth (CCFY), emotionally connected with young people across the nation. The chat box blew up with appreciation as Mr. Bacon shared his story.
After the Vietnam War, Mr. Bacon’s father adopted a Vietnamese boy. Mr. Bacon grew up with a new older brother. Today, he is the father of four grown children: two biological children and two younger siblings who were adopted at the ages of 8 and 9. His conversation took on new meaning for the town hall participants as they heard about his journey and how his own father shaped his view of family.
This Friday, May 1, NFYI will kick off National Foster Care Month by hosting Rhode Island Representative and Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth Co-chair, Jim Langevin. Throughout the month of May, NFYI will host two Congressional Town halls each week on Tuesdays and Fridays for a total of 15 in our series so far. And more Congressmembers are requesting to participate!
- EXPANDING OUR MOBILIZING, SKILL BUILDING WEBINARS, CALLS TO ACTION, & VIDEO SELFIES
In addition to our town halls, NFYI is expanding its mobilizing efforts by holding weekly online convenings to further develop our chapters in Los Angeles, Michigan, and New Jersey, along with our emerging Mid-Atlantic Chapter. NFYI is also conducting weekly skill building webinars, which provide hands-on practice on how to utilize email, petitions, phone downs and social media to build and strengthen relationships with legislators and other decision makers.
One result of these trainings is this moving video that was put together by transition age youth who are sharing their personal experiences with COVID-19 and calling on Congress to make sure they are not left behind in recovery efforts.
- WHAT WE’RE HEARING
Through our town halls, NFYI constituents from across the nation are invited to share their experience directly with Members of Congress (MOCs), and NFYI is hearing firsthand how the everyday challenges foster youth experience are at a breaking point.
Younger children living with foster families, in group homes, or in precarious situations, are facing significant disruptions to school, food access, and even visitation. With our colleges and dorms closed, older and former foster youth are facing untenable situations, as the stress of losing a job, coupled with food and housing insecurities leaves them without resources. In addition, transition age youth, many of whom have been separated from siblings that are still in care – or are themselves caring for nieces, nephews or siblings – are having trouble finding the basic supplies they need to care for small children.
We know that NFYI is the future lifeline for this vulnerable population. Our members give voice to the 400,000 foster children in care in the US, who are too young or too desperate to speak up for themselves. Our immediate goal is to influence recommendations on how stimulus funding is allocated. We know that NFYI is the future lifeline for our children. We need you and hope that we can count on you to be part of these conversations and solutions in the coming weeks and months.