On February 1, 2023, the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth (CCFY) co-hosted with the National Foster Youth Institute (NFYI), Youth Villages, and iFoster a “Learn, Listen, Lead” event at the U.S. Capital. The program included introductions and remarks from caucus chairs and a panel discussion on priorities and legislative agendas for the 118th Congress. Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI) commenced the event with welcoming remarks regarding the bipartisan partnership within the caucus: “A subject both parties care about: our youth. Our group cares about all the onboarding strategies to help them negotiate through their lives.” Other Caucus Co-Chairs include Representatives Don Bacon (R-NE), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Nancy Mace (R-SC), Sydney Kamiager-Dove (D-CA), and Zach Nunn (R-IA).

The CCFY as a whole provides a platform for Members of Congress to discuss and develop policy recommendations to strengthen the child welfare system and improve the well-being of youth and families. “[America] shames and marginalizes and makes foster youth invisible because we cannot seem to wrap our minds around how someone gets into foster care in the first place.” (Representative Kamiager-Dove). All Representatives ultimately pointed to their personal passions connected to youth advocacy and shared the same sentiment of holding “honest and uncomfortable” conversations that can navigate such broken systems.

The event featured panelists from the co-hosting organizations. Topics included the needs and experiences of older youth in foster care, what child welfare can learn from the armed services regarding successful discharge transitions, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), and permanency through kinship care. The panel pointed out that as of FY 2020, there were 150,858 youth ages 14 to 21 in foster care, which is approximately a quarter of the system. This is a massive population that has unique experiences and needs related to transitioning successfully into adulthood.

The CCFY is looking forward to its next event, the 2023 Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Day, which is being hosted by the National Foster Youth Institute on June 14.

Legislation mentioned during the CCFY Briefing:

By Erin Weiss, Policy Intern