On Wednesday, June 7, the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, along with Florida-based Camelot Community Care, hosted a discussion, REAL kids, REAL voices, REAL time – Roundtable Discussion by Youth in Foster Care.

The discussion focused on the experiences of nine young people in foster care. The hour-long dialogue included question and answers by Tavyla Blanks, Alfredo Canizares, Kevon Dooley, Portia Duncan, Alana Gonzalez, Yocasta Paredes, Kadeidra Cloird, Gabriella Leone, and Cheyenne Rogers. All youth, ranging in age from 16 through 22, are in school or college and in independent living or other placement settings.

Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA) opened the event with the hope that despite all the discord in the nation’s capital, this issue area offers the possibility of coming together to help these young people. Bass talked about how and when she engages other members of Congress, challenging them to think of the issues their own children face and to imagine that world for a young person in foster care.

The discussion involved Capitol Hill staff and audience members engaging in a dialogue that solicited information on what each of the young people have faced or are facing and what kind of supports they would like to see. Issues that came up included access and barriers to education, interaction with their siblings and families, the role of mental health and substance abuse, and current federal law and proposed legislation.