Leonardo Jimenez, 21, of Los Angeles said after a lifetime in foster care, he never expected to have his congresswoman speak his name on the House floor, or to become a part of the historical record of the United States.
“We have someone that is advocating for us that hasn’t been in our shoes, but is willing to take off her shoes and put herself in our shoes to know our needs, our wants and she’s very involved in our future,” Jimenez said. “She’s given me a voice.”
Bass started the Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Program six years ago, during her first term in Congress. The program has grown and now the National Foster Youth Institute runs the all-expenses-paid program along with several foster support groups.Nearly 100 members of Congress from more than 30 states participated this year, Bass said. That includes 19 California members of Congress.“The hope is that they build a long-term relationship with their member of Congress, so they can be the foster care expert, to keep that issue in their ear,” Bass said.