NFYI’s Congressional Leadership Academy, is a 10-month program consisting of monthly skill-building training and workshops for former foster youth from across the country. The Academy prepares current and former foster youth to use their personal experiences to raise awareness of social justice and historical injustices that the child welfare system is built upon. The Academy includes NFYI’s signature event, Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Day Experience, which takes place each June in Washington, DC. The week-long immersive Shadow Day Experience allows for connection with Members of Congress, Congressional staffers and peers. Workshops focus on community organizing, the legislative process, child welfare policy and how to strategically share their knowledge of the system with their Member of Congress. Former foster youth gain a behind-the-scenes look at the legislative processes, and policymakers hear personal testimony and experiences of youth in the child welfare system.
Putting Current and Former Foster Youth Face-to-Face with Their Representatives
Advocating on behalf of foster youth seemed only natural to me.
Congressional Shadow Day Delegate
Apply for Shadow Day:
This program is open to anyone between the ages of 18 and 30 who has experience in foster care and is eager to take on an active role in transforming the child welfare system. Applications for the 2024 Congressional Leadership Academy are now open!
To be notified when we’re accepting applications for the next Shadow Day program, please sign up for our emails.
Host a Foster Youth:
Members of Congress find hosting a young adult during Shadow Day to be an eye-opening, rewarding experience. In addition to spending time meeting with their Congressmember, many delegates join meetings and briefings, get tours of the House floor or offices, and meet with legislative aides. The shadow experience ends with a lunch in the Rayburn Building, where members and staff join all of the delegates and special surprise guests for a celebratory end to the program. If your office would like to host a delegate at the next Shadow Day, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sponsor a Delegate:
If you’d like to sponsor a delegate’s participation or donate care package items, professional clothing, drinks, snacks, or other items, please email
Outcomes from previous Shadow Day Programs include:
Shadow Day has proven to be a truly enriching experience.
Shadow Day participants are outstanding examples of inner strength, and it is our strong belief that everyone’s worldview would be improved by spending time with foster youth. These individuals exemplify the American values of perseverance and resilience. For members of Congress, having these courageous foster youth joining us as our ‘shadows’ gives us a better perspective and serves as a reminder of the many issues they face.