The Foster Youth Internship program, created in 2003, provides opportunities for formerly fostered young adults to become congressional interns, where they learn about policies and the legislative process on foster care and adoption. The Foster Youth Internship program enables formerly fostered young adults to learn how to get their voices and policy recommendations heard. As part of the program, interns produce a policy report that they present at a congressional hearing.
The 2012 report, titled Hear Me Now, includes the most recent cohort's policy recommendations. The chapters and authors are:
- Preventing Crossover from Foster Care into the Criminal Justice System / R.J. Sloke
- Educating Congress: The Value of Investing in Post-Secondary Education for Foster Youth / Maurissa Sorensen
- Age of Accountability / Tawny Spinelli
- Care for Youth in Care: The Need for High-Quality Foster Parents / Ashley Lepse
- Transitional Foster Youth, Post-Secondary Education, & Mentor Programs / Michael Duvall
- Life's Transitions Do Not Occur Overnight / Briana Dovi
- Foster Youth for Sale / Talitha James
- AfterCare.gov: An Information Database for Foster Youth / Marchelle Roberts
- Putting Home Back in Group Home / James Williams
- Leaving No Indian Child Behind / Daryle Conquering Bear
- Having Options Provides Empowerment / Cristina Miranda
- Lifelong Connections: You Determine My Fate / Dashun Jackson
- A Pill for Every Problem: Overmedication and Lack of Mental Health Services among Foster Youth / Cassandra Cook
Executive Director Kathleen Strottman writes in this year's forward,
"For far too long we have let the voices of those in care go unheard...It has been my experience that the voices of foster care alumni are the ones we should be listening to more than any others. When they speak, things actually stand a chance of getting better. Not because their stories remind us of how far we have yet to go, but because their ingenuity and passion for making a difference show us just how far we can reach."Listening to those who have been in care - the children that were in foster homes, institutions, and adopted - should be a top priority for any organization or agency that takes the title "child welfare" seriously. For all the lip service given about "the best interests of the child," it is the rare child welfare organization that asks those that were the children about their experiences or, even more rarely, what needs to be done better.
According to the CCAI website:
- 100 former foster youth have used this experience as a foundation to go on and pursue a variety of distinguished careers
- 60 Members of Congress have heard the voice of former foster youth and are now educated about issues affecting their lives
- 10 Congressional briefings have provided firsthand knowledge to policymakers
- 125 policy recommendations have been presented to policymakers
- 37% of FYIs have gone on to pursue graduate, law, and doctoral degrees
- 47% of FYIS enter careers in social service
The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the millions of children around the world in need of permanent, safe, and loving homes and to eliminating the barriers that hinder these children from realizing their basic right of a family.
You can download a PDF of the report from the CCAI blog here.