On Tuesday, July 17, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute hosted their annual Foster Youth Intern (FYI) legislative forum.

The annual invent invites in a number of young people who have been in foster care and have served as interns on Capitol Hill to share their ideas and proposals on child welfare policy. This year’s event featuring a packed Capitol Hill crowd to listen to the ten young interns discuss their experiences and what they would do to make improvements and federal statutes and laws The legislative agenda, TOOLS FOR TRANSFORMATION included:

• Paving the Way to Sibling Connections, Brittney Barros
• Building a Bridge to Adulthood: Supporting Foster Parents So Youth Can Thrive, Calli Crowder
• One Home, One School: Investing in Placement and Educational Stability for Foster Youth, Shay House
• Ensuring Children’s Well-Being by Supporting Kinship Caregivers, Cortney Jones
• Connecting Unaccompanied Refugee Minors with Culturally-Competent Foster Families and Comprehensive Support Services, Noor Kathem
• Tools for Opportunity: An In-Depth Look at Childhood Trauma and Prevention Services, Amber Lindamood
• Addressing the Needs of a Nation, Ixchel Martinez
• Transforming Extended Foster Care: More Meaningful Preparation for a Brighter Future, Alison Myers
• Acceptance and Empowerment: Helping LGBTQ+ Youth in Foster Care through Training, Data Collection and Non-Discrimination Laws, Terrence Scraggins
• You Must Learn: Connecting Foster Youth to Social Capital and Higher Education, Jordan Sosa
The recommendations were developed by the ten interns based on their life experiences and what they had learned about federal policy over the summer. Terrence Scroggins focused his attention and his recommendations on helping LGBTQ youth in foster care through improved training for caseworkers, better data collection through updated AFCARS implementation and enactment of legislation to ban discrimination in placements and recruitment in child welfare. He also took the opportunity to call out the need to oppose the Aderholt amendment.

Several proposals include implementation of the December 2016 AFCARS final rule which appears to have been delayed by the Trump Administration. Other ideas included a foster and adoptive parent database, mandatory information to kinship families on the availability of support services in their state, requiring all states to increase foster care to the age of 21 and several ideas to provide some targeted HHS funding to encourage and improve child welfare practices.