Quote of the Month:
“We know the different cracks we need to fill. Let us be the hammer to be able to break the cycle.”
— Jose Canizal, NFYI Organizing Intern, speaking at the announcement of the LA County Youth Advisory Commission
Message from the Executive Director
This month, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors broke new ground in engaging youth in their efforts to improve the child welfare system — a move that I hope serves as an example for legislative bodies across the country.
Supervisor Janice Hahn announced the creation of a new County of LA Youth Commission, which will be made up of young people with experience in the child welfare or juvenile justice systems and who will advise the Board of Supervisors on the issues that impact them most. The full board quickly voted to approve the commission, and it will officially launch in May.
We know from past experience and research that the only way to create effective change in child welfare is to include the voices and experiences of those who have first-hand knowledge of the system: the young people who have been a part of it.
In the coming months, NFYI will be supporting the inclusion of current/former foster youth on the commission, helping to ensure they have a strong voice in the policymaking process.
Fostering Access to Change
black-ish star Marcus Scribner and NFYI alum Carolina Wolf appeared on All Access with Scott Evans to talk about NFYI, the challenges of transitioning out of foster care, and how we can all support young adults during that transition. Filmed at Universal Studios in LA, the interview was an opportunity to share the foster youth experience with a new, nationwide audience! You can watch it on our Facebook page here.
Fostering Groundbreaking Change
Ready to fight and ready to end child poverty! We were thrilled to be at the launch of End Child Poverty CA’s ground-breaking new plan, which is aiming to cut child poverty in half in California. Attendees heard from NFYI Board Chair Conway Collis, President and CEO, GRACE and End Child Poverty in California, along with Dolores Huerta, Sen. Holly Mitchell, and NFYI’s Kenneth Chancey. ED Sally Fairman, and organizing interns Miles Ray-Burkes and Megan Simon also attended. Learn more about the End Child Poverty plan here.
Fostering Creative Change
Our DC office hosted its first open mic night this month and attendees heard poetry and music from current and former foster youth inspired by the theme Love and Foster Care. The event was an opportunity to invite the community into our new office and talk to attendees about joining our new DC/Maryland/Virginia chapter, which will be launching soon!
Fostering Community Change
The LA Organizing Interns have been busy hosting community dinners in our Los Angeles office focused on conversations around transforming child welfare, creating easily accessible resources for foster youth, and organizing youth across the county to combat homelessness. The next event — Sandwiches and Summaries — is coming up on March 4. Attendees will talk about the results of the primary election, how local government offices impact different aspects of child welfare, and will wrap up with some friendly competition. Current/former foster youth are encouraged to attend this free event by RSVPing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fostering Federal Change
This month we hosted another Congressional Dinner and members of Congress and staffers had an opportunity to do a deep dive on an important topic with former foster youth and child welfare experts. This month’s focus was on mental health. Attendees heard from Tony Parsons, a founding member of our DC-area chapter, Michelle Guymon from the LA County Probation Department’s Child Trafficking Unit, and Jeannette Pai-Espinosa, the president of National Crittenton. Thanks to Rep. Karen Bass, Rep. Don Bacon, and Rep. Tony Cardenas for joining us!
Fostering Change Through Partnerships
Our programs team hit the road in January and February to meet with organizations, foster youth, legislators, and partners across the country that are creating transformational change in child welfare. We’re grateful to the following people/orgs for taking the time to meet with us:
CASA of New Jersey • Guardian Scholars • Office of Sen. Kamala Harris • Michigan’s Children • Michigan Coalition to End Youth Homelessness • the New Jersey Department of Children and Families • Stepping Forward LA • United Friends of the Children • Union Rescue Mission
The National Foster Youth Institute aims to transform the child welfare system and vastly improve outcomes for foster youth by empowering the youth and their families, building a grassroots movement in 435 congressional districts across the country, and partnering with committed policymakers. Truly transformative foster care reform will not come to fruition until the individuals who have personally experienced the child welfare system have a strong voice in the policymaking process. And NFYI is dedicated to ensuring their place at the table. You’re invited to join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and by using #FosterYouthVoices.