The Senate Caucus on Foster Youth has a new co-chair, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).  She replaces Senator Mary Landrieu who is an original co-chair along with Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) when the caucus was formed in 2009. Senator Landrieu did not win her re-election race.

Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) made the announcement and welcomed Stabenow last week.   “Senator Stabenow is a hard worker and a good listener,” Grassley said.  “She’ll bring her energy and experience to focus on the ways to improve the quality of life of kids in foster care and those who age out of foster care with great challenges.” As part of the announcement Senator Stabenow said that “As co-chair of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, I will continue to champion the needs of children in foster care.  First and foremost, foster children deserve a permanent, safe and loving home, and I look forward to working with Senator Grassley to advocate for these children and young adults.”    Stabenow is on the key Committee in the Senate, the Finance Committee where she serves with Senator Grassley.  She was first elected to the Senate in the 2000 election as a member of the U.S. House but previous to her congressional work she did a great deal of work on child welfare in the Michigan legislature.  In the state senate and state house she sponsored legislation that increased oversight of foster care placements.  She was also the sponsor of legislation that established a state income tax dollar check off to fund the Michigan Children’s Trust Fund to address child abuse prevention.

The caucus was founded to highlight the voices of current and former youth to advise policymakers on the needs and challenges facing these individuals.  The caucus has a particular focus on the young adults who are aging out of the system and face educational challenges, financial literacy needs, risks of homelessness and substance abuse and other particular challenges at a much higher rate than the general population.    The caucus provides briefings and roundtables for Senators and staff by think tank experts, child welfare coalitions, child welfare advocates and foundations and other groups close to these the issues.