Monday, March 22, 2010 WASHINGTON
The Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Mary Landrieu, is urging legislators who will begin re-authorization of federal education programs to hear from foster youth in the process. "There's nothing like first-hand knowledge to educate lawmakers about the policy decisions they'll make," Grassley said. "Foster youth are the experts on what it's like to deal with the challenges of attending school while in foster care. Their views could help to improve the experience for the next generation of kids."
"Foster youth have the power to influence legislation as evidenced by our success in pass of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act," Landrieu said. "Children who had spent time in our broken foster care system were invaluable during that process. What has been made clear to me is that we must empower youth to educate Congress about their unique experiences in foster care and the obstacles they face. They help us make better policy decisions." Grassley and Landrieu, joined by 10 other members of the Caucus on Foster Youth, wrote to the chairman and ranking member of the Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee, which recently began holding hearings on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
The caucus requested that the committee "invite youth in foster care to one of these hearings to testify about their experiences in the nation's educational system, and their suggestions for reform." Reforms could include better record-keeping, more of an effort to keep students in the same school when their foster home changes, and better coordination between school personnel and child welfare agencies in developing strategies to help these youths.