Nearly 100 current and former foster youth shared their experiences with Members of Congress last week as the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth and National Foster Youth Institute (NFYI) held their 8th Annual Foster Youth Shadow Day in Washington D.C. - kicking off the event was Miss District of Columbia 2019, founder of Acts of Random Kindness, and Foster to Famous story - Cordelia Cranshaw. Shadow Day attendees received an all-expense paid opportunity to spend time with their Congressional Representatives and White House officials. Several FosterClub Young Leaders received this special recognition and shared their experiences to help inform and improve the child welfare system.
Bianca Bennett, 2018 All-Star, spent 7 years in New York’s foster care system, joined Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (aka AOC) for a packed agenda! AOC asked, “What is one thing you want to make sure we know about the foster system and your experience?” Bianca shared, “Family is key. Housing and education support is important - but identifying, finding, and developing supportive relationships is one of the most important things!”
Shanell Lavalie, 2017 All-Star, from the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, spent 17 years in Montana’s foster care system, joined Congresswoman Deb Haaland for a day packed with committee hearings, press conferences, and more. "Who better than 100+ foster youth voices to advocate on child wellbeing issues?" Congresswoman Deb Haaland shared as she recognized Shanell on her social media.
Yeshi Vaughan, 2018 All-Star, spent 1.5 years in Washington’s foster care system, joined Congresswoman Karen Bass (Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth) for a day filled with powerful stories and inspiration. Yeshi even found herself on the cover of a Washington Newspaper alongside Bass herself!
Miguel “Phoenix” Ramirez, 2018 All-Star, spent 14 years in Oregon’s foster care system, shadowed Representative Suzanne Bonamici, sharing powerful stories from his foster care experience as well as his time at Southern Oregon University.
Thank you to the Members of Congress, the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, NFYI, and everyone that was involved to make Shadow Day possible and turning the attention of Congress and our Nation to some of our young people who need it most. Dr. Phil and Ashton Kutcher were among the celebrities who publicly recognized this incredible opportunity to elevate #FosterYouthVoices.
Bianca shares, “This is literally a dream come true. I’ve shared my story a million and one times but this time was so much different. To have a congresswoman sit down and want to listen and understand the struggles that foster youth go through and listen to my story, I’ve never felt like I belonged so much before in my life. A reminder that my voice is strong, important, and needed at the table.”
Want to get involved and advocate for change in the child welfare system? Become a FosterClub member (it’s FREE) and receive the latest information for upcoming opportunities and ways to get involved!