Ricky Ballesteros and Alexis Baska, 2015 FosterClub All-Star Interns, testified during the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth Briefing Series. The series consists of three parts discussing the impact of substance use and mental health disorders on children and families involved in the child welfare system.

Ricky Testifying

The part one series “Why do Children Come into Foster Care?” was held on April 5th at the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C.. Aimed to explore the impact of substance use and mental health disorders on children, Ricky discussed his experience in the foster care system due to his parent’s involvement with drugs, the long term impact his parent’s substance abuse had on his family, and how the lack of information provided to his siblings while in foster care contributed to their own abuse struggles. A former foster youth from the state of Utah, Ricky spent three years in care.

Alexis Testifying

Having spent just under four years in the Oregon foster care system, Alexis shared her personal experience in part two of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth Briefing Series titled, “Preventing the Need for Foster Care.” Held April 21st in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, the focus was to highlight the program, practice and systemic changes needed to help families with behavior health issues. Alexis discussed what interventions could have been offered to prevent her from entering foster care, how education on addiction could have given her a better understanding about what her parent was going through, and the types of services that would have helped her overcome the grief she experienced as a result of her parent’s addiction and entering foster care.

Keisha and Alexis at Senate Caucus Briefings

Part three “Promising Solutions for the Future” set to take place in May will address what can be done to meet child and family substance use and mental health needs. FosterClub Young Leaders will be present for testimony. 2015 All-Star Intern, Keisha Cohen, attended the briefings providing support and adding her story to the discussion of the impact of substance use and mental health disorders on children and families involved in the child welfare system.

Senate Caucus on Foster Youth Co-Chairs: Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

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