On June 4, 2019, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth (CCFY) hosted more than 100 current and former foster youth from across the country as part of the 8th Annual Foster Youth Shadow Day in Washington, D.C. Every year, the event allows youth to share their experiences in foster care directly with their Member of Congress to help inform and improve child welfare policy.
“Each year our participants have a real hand in making change – from CHAFEE grant extensions, to the passage of the Family First Act just last year, this group’s voices have changed our child welfare system forever,” said Rep. Bass. “The reality is this: when the government removes children from their parents, the government becomes that child’s parent. Too often, the government forgets this commitment and life goes on for those not in the child welfare system. But for those in it, they come to feel trapped and forgotten.”
This year’s Shadow Day included more than 100 delegates aged between 18 to 30 who have spent a combined 725 years in the child welfare system. No one knows more about the pitfalls of our nation’s child welfare system than those who grew up in it. These young people travelled thousands of miles to come to DC to share their stories – their challenges with abuse, trafficking, overmedication, or homelessness; in addition to their successes with mentorship, adoption, family reunification, community activism and independent living. The goal is to help Congress understand how to improve the child welfare system. This program is an increasingly rare example of powerful bipartisan collaboration on an issue that impacts this disenfranchised community in every congressional district in America.
Photo caption – Rep. Karen Bass with former foster youth Briana Smith