100 Former Foster Youth Visit Members of Congress in Washington D.C. to Advocate for Child Welfare Reform During National Foster Youth Institute’s 7th Annual Shadow Day

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Youth to spend an entire day “shadowing” their congressional representatives

“At NFYI, we know that when young people are given access to the powers that be, the forgotten, unheard or misrepresented stories of their lives and communities can be transformed,” says Jenny Vinopal, executive director of NFYI.

The National Foster Youth Institute (NFYI, http://www.nfyi.org) is gearing up once again to bring over 100 current and former foster youth, selected from a nationwide pool of applicants, to Washington D.C. for a week of leadership training sessions, workshops on activism, and legislative meetings, culminating in an opportunity to spend a day “shadowing” their individual Congress members. Shadow Day attendees, some as young as 18, have all spent time in the foster care system and will share their experiences, while advocating for reforms in the child welfare system, both in their district, and nationwide.

NFYI creates the Shadow Day Program each year, in partnership with the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, providing a forum for members of Congress to discuss and develop policy recommendations which strengthen the child welfare system and improve the overall well-being of youth and families. Co-chaired by Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA), Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), and Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth brings together over 100 Members of Congress to discuss the challenges facing all foster youth and develop bipartisan policy initiatives.

Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA, 37th), during Shadow Day 2017, stated that government essentially becomes "the parents" when it puts children in foster care, and then "washes our hands of them" once they turn 18.

“Any time a foster youth falls through the cracks, then the government is really responsible because when we remove children from their parents, we — meaning the government — become the parents, we are responsible for them," Bass said on the House floor. "So, we're working on legislation to improve that."

NFYI’s Shadow Day Program has trained a corps of foster youth alumni across the nation who have developed chapters in their home districts and partnered with local leaders and organizations to educate policymakers to addresses chronic problems within the national, state, and local child welfare systems.

“At NFYI, we know that when young people are given access to the powers that be, the forgotten, unheard or misrepresented stories of their lives and communities can be transformed,” says Jenny Vinopal, executive director of NFYI. “We are grateful for the support of Casey Family Programs, and the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth who empower NFYI’s foster youth alumni by giving them a platform to voice
their personal stories of healing and thriving.”

For more information about the 2018 Congressional Shadow Day program, please visit:
http://www.nfyi.org/what-we-do/Shadow-Day-Program

Major funding for the Shadow Day Program provided by Casey Family Programs.

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The National Foster Youth Institute is a non-profit organization which envisions a nation where all children are raised in safe and loving families and where the child welfare system serves as a beacon of hope for families in need. To achieve this vision, they aim to transform the child welfare system and vastly improve outcomes for foster youth by empowering the youth and their families, building a grassroots movement in 435 congressional districts across the country, and partnering with committed policymakers. Truly transformative foster care reform will not come to fruition until the individuals who have personally experienced the child welfare system have a strong voice in the policymaking process. And NFYI is dedicated to ensuring their place at the table.
Learn more at http://www.nfyi.org

Casey Family Programs is the nation’s largest operating foundation focused on safely reducing the need for foster care and building Communities of Hope for children and families across America. Founded in 1966, we work in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to influence long-lasting improvements to the safety and success of children, families and the communities where they live. Learn more at http://www.casey.org

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Official hashtags are:
#FosterYouthVoices #ShadowDay2018

PHOTOS
Photos of the National Foster Youth Congressional Shadow Day (c. 2017) are available here.

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Jenny Vinopal
@NFYInstitute
since: 06/2013
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