Quote of the Month

“Our children are the living messages we send to a future we will never see…. Will we rob them of their destiny? Will we rob them of their dreams? No—we will not do that.” – Rep. Elijah Cummings


Message from the Executive Director

When I go out into the world and tell people about the National Foster Youth Institute, I use a lot of words to describe this organization. “Policy,” “child welfare,” “youth voices,” and “outcomes.”

But I also talk a lot about “community.” It’s something that’s visible in every moment of our work. Community is an experienced advocate walking a group of friends through the legislative process over pizza. Community is a proud group selfie on the steps of the US Capitol. It’s cooking dinner together during a training retreat. It’s a video conference between our LA and DC staffers. Community means you’re never alone and that your potential is limitless.

On November 16, you’ll have an opportunity to experience that community for yourself at our annual Afternoon of Learning and Celebration. You’ll learn more about our work, get details about our plans for the future, hear from our award recipients, and speak with the youth who are using their voices to transform child welfare.

You’re a critically important part of our community. And I hope to see you there.



Sally Fairman, Executive Director


Fostering Organizational Change

This month, NFYI welcomed our new East Coast Organizing Manager, Zahra Martinez! Zahra is going to be helping young people across the country organize around issues that impact current and former foster youth in their communities. Based in our DC office, she’ll also work with Congressional offices to connect with youth and participate in Shadow Day. Zahra has been mentoring and serving youth for 13 years. You can learn more about her here.

Cyndi Sorrell also joined the team as an Executive Assistant this month. With a background in education, experience working with youth, and a passion for child welfare, Cyndi will be supporting NFYI’s operations, human resources and fundraising efforts while providing support to the Executive Director in Los Angeles and the entire team nationwide.


Fostering Federal Change

NFYI’s most recent Congressional Dinner was held at the US Capitol and gave Members of Congress and their staffers an opportunity to learn more about kinship care — when children are cared for primarily by grandparents, extended family, or close family friends. Attendees heard from Amy Anderson-Williams, a Shadow Day participant who was placed in kinship care as a child and who became a kinship care provider herself at the age of 20. 

“Having children placed with me under kinship care is a lot harder than regular foster parent care,” Amy shared. “They don’t like to provide you with any assistance and if they do it takes months or even years to get them to help you.”

At the next Congressional Dinner in December, attendees will learn about the practice of rehoming adopted children.


Fostering Youth-Led Change

To support the Congressional Dinner on kinship care, several foster care alums submitted testimonials for us to share with attendees. You can read their remarks on our Facebook page.


Fostering Supportive Change

Shop on Amazon? You can support NFYI and help lift up #FosterYouthVoices by making us your charity of choice on AmazonSmile and starting your shopping at smile.amazon.com. Each time you make an eligible purchase, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate a portion of the sale to NFYI. Make NFYI your designated AmazonSmile charity here!


Fostering Policy Change

Here are some new developments we followed closely in the policy and legislative worlds in October:

The Chronicle of Social Change released “Who Cares,” the nation’s first public resource on foster care capacity. The Chronicle collected data directly from each state and combined it with specially obtained federal reports to shed light on two critical questions: How many kids are in foster care today? And where are they living?

A bipartisan group of Senators highlighted a new report that says the Department of Education should do more to help states provide educational stability for students in foster care. The Education Department’s first step: redesigning a portion of the department’s website to include a page to house all foster care-related information and resources. Also this fall, the department will launch a virtual portal through which foster care points of contact can collaborate and share resources.

“California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed off on about a dozen child welfare bills this year, including an effort to better support Native American children in the state’s child welfare system, diversion to help some parents avoid losing their children to foster care as a result of incarceration and rule changes to increase access to financial aid for foster youth in higher education.”

The National Advisory Committee on the Sex Trafficking of Children & Youth is accepting public comment as they continue a push to address the fact that foster children are particularly vulnerable to falling victim to sex trafficking. You can submit a statement and read previously submitted comments here.