Earlier this week, Senator Ron Wyden made a statement on the Senate floor in honor of National Foster Care Month.
Read the full statement below or see the official posting!
NATIONAL FOSTER CARE MONTH
Mr. President, each year, I look forward to National Foster Care Month as an opportunity to honor the more than 440,000 children and youth in foster care nationwide. It is also an opportunity to honor the foster and kinship families and child welfare workers who support them. This year, in particular, the importance of supporting the children, youth, families and skilled workers in the foster care system has been underscored by the devastation of the COVID–19 pandemic. It is essential that Congress not only honor those who give and receive care as part of this system, but also those who take meaningful action to protect families, children, youth, and workers from the spread of the virus. In my home State of Oregon, more than 11,000 children and youth enter foster care in a given year, and about 7,900 children and youth are living in out-of-home placements on any given day. Oregon provides transition services to about 1,350 young adults, but many continue to struggle to find work, go to college, or complete technical training. The COVID–19 virus has hit these older youth particularly hard.
As we consider actions to help the nation weather this pandemic, I would like to recognize a nonprofit organization in my State that represents a critical part of the response to COVID–19 for children and youth in the foster care system and those who have aged out of the system without finding a home to call their own. FosterClub is based in a beautiful town on the Oregon coast, Seaside. FosterClub is marking its 20th anniversary working to improve the lives of children and youth in foster care by connecting them to resources, teaching them how to become self advocates, and helping elevate their lived experiences and voices to members of Congress. By doing so, they are able to inform positive changes in our federal foster care system.
And that is what this month is about: honoring the strength of those currently in and those who have exited the foster care system. It is about listening to their experiences and their needs. Over the years, I have been proud to work with my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to craft and get across the finish line legislation to strengthen and improve the foster care policies in Oregon and around the country. Not too long ago, then-Chairman Orrin Hatch and I were able to come together and pass into law the landmark Family First Prevention Services Act, commonly known as Family First. Family First was Children Defense Fund Founder Marion Wright Edelman’s vision for a better foster care system focused on helping families stay together. This bipartisan legislation transformed the child welfare system to provide parents the help they need to prevent the trauma that occurs when children and youth are removed unnecessarily from their homes and placed in foster care. I remain committed to responding to the needs of children and youth in foster care and am dedicated to pursuing bipartisan ways to address the challenges faced by children, youth, families, and workers in the foster care system and especially now during the COVID–19 public health emergency.
I call on my colleagues, especially those across the aisle, to remember our Nation’s foster care recipients and acknowledge the strain our Nation’s most vulnerable are facing during the COVID–19 pandemic. As we work towards future ways to address the COVID–19 pandemic, we must act swiftly to provide support for the children, youth, families, and workforce involved in the foster care system and especially the young adults who have aged out of the system without finding a forever home.