FosterClub All-Stars JJ Hitch, Naomi Porter, Nicole Dobbins, Miguel Gardipee and Nikki Grey all went to the Maryland Judicial Conference last week. We figured that Maryland and Washington DC are a stones throw away from each other, so why take a side trip to Capital Hill?
Celeste came up with a list of about 15 Congressmen who have been particularly instrumental in passing foster care legislation. Considering how all encompassing the Fostering Connections to Success and the Adoption Incentives Act was, it was hard coming up with JUST 15, but she did it.
Gina and Aaron created an award to give each Congressman. It was a plaque - FosterClub style, and included the Congressman's name, a picture of the 2008 All-Stars, and included the Fostering Connections to Success and the Adoption Incentives Act. We bought out all the bubble tape in Seaside, wrapped 'm good (not a single one broke!) and shipped them out.
I got on the phone and scheduled the meetings. Because Congress was not in session, there weren't any Congressmen around, but I was able to set up meetings with members of their staff focused on Child Welfare Issues. It ended up being a pretty great lineup of people. Several of the meetings where with people that actually helped draft the legislation.
The All-Stars made the rounds and had a really great time passing out the awards. Here's what Naomi had to say about it:
"We had the unique opportunity to visit the offices of senators, congressmen and women to thank them for their support of the Kinship Caregiver Act as well as the Fostering Connections to Success and the Adoption Incentives Act which was signed into legislation by President George W. Bush himself. This is the first major piece of child welfare legislation passed in the last 10 years. Therefore, we wanted to sincerely thank all the key players for their diligent efforts. Seeing there were 18 visits to be made, we divided into 2 teams:
1. Nicole and I
2. JJ, Nikki, and Miguel.
Senator Olympia Snowe’s Legislative Assistant Amy Pellegrino
Senator John D. Rockefeller’s Legislative Correspondent Heidi Schmeider
Senator Hillary Clinton’s Legislative Aide Chelsea Maughan
Senator Barbara Boxer’s Legislative Assistant Carina Armenta
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s Senior Policy Advisor Wendell Primus
Congressman Dennis Cardoza’s Special Assistant Estakio Beltran
Congressman Jim McDermott’s Senior Legislative Assistant Sean Hughes
Senator Charles E. Grassley’s Health Policy Advisor Rebecca Shipp
All of the staff was very appreciative of the thank you frames we gave them. In midst of their gratefulness many of them wanted to know more about us. In fact, Ms. Shipp spent 45 minutes with us learning about other issues we faced and continue to struggle with, as well as informing us that prevention of foster care seems to be the next legislative area they will be working on. There was unanimous consent about the miraculous way in which the Fostering Connections to Success and Adoption Incentives Act was passed, seeing that there was no opposition from the House or Senate. I was encouraged to see that there were people in policy that had not lost their passion for the thankless advocacy they do for youth in out of home placements. I appreciate the opportunity to advocate and meet people like them."
Anyway, that's another day in the day of our All-Stars. Always ready to hop on a plane and let our elected officials know how important it is for them to pass legislation to help the half million kids in foster care