The National Foster Youth Institute extends congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their election victory and looks forward to working with the incoming administration to create and improve child welfare policies.

On any given day in our country, 400,000 children are in foster care and hundreds of thousands of transition age youth are navigating life after foster care with little to no support.

This year, the coronavirus pandemic, economic recession, pushes for racial justice and criminal justice reforms, and national housing crisis have shown us that these already vulnerable populations are the first to be impacted and last to recover from these emergencies.

“Too often, current and former foster youth are just one illness, one missed check, or one bad policy away from homelessness, hunger, or a disrupted education. And too many never have the opportunity to get back on track,” said Rebecca Louve Yao, interim executive director of NFYI. “When a child goes into foster care, our country and local communities owe it to them to make sure they not just taken care of, but have access to the information and resources that will help them thrive.”

For six years, NFYI has worked with local, state and federal governments to transform child welfare. By ensuring that current and former foster youth have opportunities to directly engage with policymakers and legislators, NFYI is able to show these decisionmakers the real-world impact of laws and policies and young adults have an opportunity to offer suggestions.

“No one knows child welfare better than the people who have experienced it first-hand,” said Louve Yao. “We strongly encourage the new administration to give NFYI members an opportunity to be heard around the issues that impact them most.”

In addition to reaching out to the incoming administration, NFYI will continue its ongoing work with members of Congress. NFYI’s annual Congressional Shadow Day Program brings young adults from across the country to Washington, DC to spend time with their US Representatives. And its Virtual Town Hall series have put members of the House and Senate directly in touch with current and former foster youth during the coronavirus pandemic.

These bipartisan town halls have resulted in increases in funding for foster youth and alumni of care, efforts to extend foster care for young adults aging out during the pandemic, and the Supporting Foster Youth & Families Through the Pandemic Act, introduced by Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) and Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN).