September 13, 2016

Ryan Schiele, FosterClub

Hundreds of Foster Youth and Alumni Urge Action on Family First

This week, more than 500 young people, alumni of foster care, and concerned stakeholders sent a letter to Senate leaders asking the upper chamber to vote on the House-approved Family First Prevention Services Act.  Young people are urging the U.S. Senate to take action.

“We have personal experience in the foster care system and we are signing-on to this letter to support your efforts to improve the outcomes for thousands of our brothers and sisters in foster care,” the letter starts.

The Family First Act seeks to move the system toward a family-focused approach, and reduce the need for foster care placements by providing families with time-limited prevention services like therapy or substance abuse treatment. It would connect kinship caregivers to better resources and services to take in their relatives’ children. It would ensure group homes are providing the most vulnerable children with the care they need.

“I spent 9 years in foster care in Los Angeles County. I do believe in keeping family together first, then if not, search other options close to a family situation,” said Jesse Gabriel De Luna of Pomona, an alumni of foster care in California and advocate. “I see first hand the destruction it puts on youth by placing them in foster care and even more devastating in group homes. Lets keep families together safely.”

“As a foster care alumni initially placed in a for-profit, locked group home facility with little access to supportive services, coming from a family where no preventative services were offered prior to my placement, I am encouraged by the attention given to appropriate, less restrictive environments when foster care is necessary,” said Greta Munns, an alumni of Wisconsin’s foster care system.  “I also know first hand as a new mom of twins the importance of a forever family; having people to call for advice on bad days, and someone to watch and spoil my kids when my husband and I need a night out.  No facility I've been in has ever offered those supports, but family has. “

Celeste Bodner, Executive Director of FosterClub, recognizes, “There are certainly individual youth and alumni who appreciate the quality care they received in group homes or believe their entry into foster care was unpreventable. However, an overwhelming majority of FosterClub young leaders support the Family First Act once they have an opportunity to study each provision, are educated about the federal role in foster care financing, and reflect on the experiences of their peers.”

Young leaders from foster care will deliver the letter of support to policymakers in the Senate this week, urging action in the month of September.

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Download pdf of signed letter to members of Congress here