What is the one thing you wish people knew about the foster care system from your perspective?
From my perspective, parental substance abuse has been the primary cause of children entering foster. Studies by organizations such as the Child Welfare League of America have indicated that around 75% of children enter care directly as a result of their parents’ abuse of drugs and/or alcohol (FCARC, 2008). I do not believe that enough is being done to help parents overcome their substance addictions, and the result is an overloaded child-welfare system which is struggling to meet the needs of nearly 400,000 foster youth across the nation.
What was the key takeaway from your experience of Foster Youth Shadow Day last year?
Being part of a cohort of successful individuals who were in the foster care system and were in the midst of the federal public policy process demonstrated two things to me. First, you can be successful in life even if dealt some of the worst hands of cards possible during childhood. Second, well-advised youth advocacy groups can offer valuable insight to lawmakers regarding the systems in which they were involved.