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Fostering Change: August 2022 Newsletter

August 20, 2022

2022 Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Day

Earlier this summer, current and former foster youth from around the world met in Washington, DC for the 10th annual Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Day Experience. Since 2012, NFYI and the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth have hosted this one-of-a-kind event that brings together young people with lived experience in foster care and our nation’s most powerful decisionmakers.

This year, attendees hailed from 17 different states and were joined by a contingent of former foster youth from New Zealand. They attended training workshops, networking receptions, and spent time on the Hill talking about access to higher education, the juvenile justice system, and other issues. At the annual Foster Youth Town Hall in the U.S. Capitol, representatives like Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) and Rep. Mary Scanlon (PA-05) answered questions directly from foster youth delegates.

A highlight of the Shadow Day experience was a luncheon where attendees heard from guests like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Karen Bass (CA-37), Pennsylvania State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (PA-181), and media personality and former foster youth Jason Lee.

Thank you to the attendees, Members of Congress, Capitol Hill staffers, and funders who made this year’s Shadow Day not only possible, but wildly successful. Making space for the personal stories and experiences of foster youth and alumni of care is our best shot at crafting legislation and policies that help children thrive in foster care and beyond.

Shadow Day has ended, but the attendees’ important work continues! They are all participating in our new Congressional Leadership Academy, a 10-month program focused on building young people’s power and educating Congress on foster youth issues.

FOSTERING AWARENESS

In the News

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has significant implications for the future of the foster care system and for young people who are already in care. As states began to enact further limitations or bans on abortion, NFYI warned that changes must be made to an already strained foster care system, families need access to more poverty prevention resources, and efforts must be made to protect healthcare for foster youth.

NFYI Executive Director Rebecca Louve Yao spoke with MSNBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin about how NFYI members may be affected:

Screengrab from video.
And External Communications Director Mariah Craven spoke with Axios about why child welfare advocates are concerned about straining a system that was already stressed by the pandemic.


Congressional Dinner: Congregate Care

NFYI and the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth co-hosted a dinner for Members of Congress and community activists focused on the impact of congregate care on foster youth. Thanks to the NFYI members who shared their lived experiences along with Youth Villages and Family Integrity and Justice Works at Public Knowledge.

An estimated 55,000 children live in group homes, residential treatment facilities, psychiatric institutions, and emergency shelters. While there can be benefits to short-term stays for some children with intense supervision needs, other children who are kept in congregate care long-term may face challenges, including greater difficulty finding permanent homes.


Driving Foster Youth Forward

Obtaining a driver’s license can be challenging for foster youth and the resulting transportation issues can mean losing access to education and financial opportunities. Last month, NFYI was in attendance when Congressman Danny K. Davis and Congressman Don Bacon shared their bipartisan bill, H.R. 7932, The Foster Youth and Driving Act. This new legislation would provide $4,000 per youth for driver’s education, insurance, and other fees; expand assistance for tribal youth; and promote a shared state and federal commitment to foster youth driving programs. Thanks to the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth for inviting us to learn more about this important legislation.

Action Alert: Please take a minute to reach out to your Member of Congress and let them know about this bill and what a difference it could make in foster youth’s lives!


A Shared Agenda for Change

The Los Angeles Foster Power Coalition has a shared vision for transformative change for transition age youth in LA County! You can take a look at the agenda that was created when NFYI, the LA Opportunity Youth Collaborative, California Youth Connection, and Journey House came together to build the political consciousness and power of young people across the county. Elizabeth Villa, a participant in our LA Organizing Internship, created infographics that break down the coalition’s priorities. You can find them on our Instagram @nfyinstitute.


Strong Partnerships

The LA Foster Power Coalition spent time this month with staff members from the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth at NFYI’s office. The Caucus was in town learning more about LA’s child welfare system. We are grateful to have strong partnerships like this one as we work to reform foster care!

FOSTERING COMMUNITY: UPCOMING EVENTS

Listening Sessions

NFYI members are hosting two listening sessions on August 29th for current and former foster youth across the country. The first session will focus on access to healthcare, including mental healthcare. The second session will be centered around juvenile justice and congregate care. This is your opportunity to decide what topics we’ll be addressing at this fall’s Virtual Congressional Convening, where NFYI members and community activists will meet with Congressmembers to educate and create change in the child welfare system. Sign up for a listening session today!


Survey for Young Adults in LA County

Help determine the focus of policies for transition age youth and former foster youth in LA County and earn an Amazon gift card. A new survey for LA County residents ages 18-35 focuses on resources, opportunities, and quality of life issues. The results of the study will be used to increase awareness of the views and needs of community members as it relates to jobs, education, and opportunities to advance. Click here to start the survey — it must be completed by August 19.


A Champion for Children & Families

NFYI sends our deepest condolences to the families and colleagues of Rep. Jackie Walorski, Zach Potts, and Emma Thompson. The Congressmember and two staffers were killed in a car crash in Indiana that also claimed the life of another person. Rep. Walorski was a true champion for children. She and her aides really listened to foster youth voices and created legislation that improved the lives of foster youth across the country. NFYI members regularly met virtually with Rep. Walorski and her team throughout the pandemic and she, along with Rep. Danny K. Davis, ensured passage of the Supporting Foster Youth & Families Through the Pandemic Act. This loss will be deeply felt in DC, Indiana, and across the nation.
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