Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Day 2019

May 1, 2019

On Tuesday, June 4, 2019, the bipartisan Congressional Caucus On Foster Youth hosted more than 100 current and former foster youth as part of the 8th Annual Foster Youth Shadow Day. The event is hosted in coordination with the National Foster Youth Institute and allows youth to share their experiences in foster care directly with Member of Congress to help inform and improve child welfare policy. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Foster Youth Shadow Day did not occur in 2020.

See below for experiences from years past!

On May 29, 2014, the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth held the third annual "Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Day." Nearly 70 current and former foster youth from across the country gathered on Capitol Hill to shadow Members of Congress and advocate for changes to the child welfare system.


Before the foster youth shadows met their Members of Congress, they gathered as a group for training with the FosterClub. During the training, they learned how to use their personal experiences in and out of foster care to explain how and why child welfare policy should be improved.

Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth Co-Chair Rep. Karen Bass (CA-37) joined the training to thank the foster youth for their work to raise awareness of child welfare issues and elevate the voices of foster youth.

Advocating at the White House

To kick off the morning of Shadow Day, the foster youth shadows went to the White House to meet with senior officials from the Department of Health and Human Services (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Administration for Children and Families), Department of Education, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, and Department of the Interior.

The officials wanted to hear from the foster youth shadows about their experiences with four key areas: housing, workforce development, healthcare, and education. Together, the officials and the foster youth shadows came up with great policy recommendations to improve foster youth experiences with these issue areas. Foster youth were chosen from each group to present their best ideas to the entrie group.

Specials guests Cierra Ramirez and Hayden Byerly from the ABC Family show, The Fosters, came to the White House to hear from foster youth directly.

Another exciting special guest was Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President of the United States.



After leaving the White House, the foster youth headed to the Capitol to meet their Members of Congress. Without a doubt, the foster youth were the stars of Capitol Hill, shadowing members of Congress, having the courage to tell their personal stories and inspiring Democrats and Republicans to use their positions to improve the lives of the nearly 400,000 youth who are in the foster care system.

View photos of the shadowing experience below:

Shadow Day Luncheon

Following their shadowing experience, the foster youth had a chance to attend a luncheon hosted by Casey Family Programs and the Foster Youth Institute.

The special guest at the luncheon was none other than Dr. Phil McGraw of the Dr. Phil Show! He encouraged the foster youth to find what they are passionate about and pursue it.

We also heard from representatives from FosterClub, Casey Family Programs, and the National Foster Youth Institute. Then, Cierra and Hayden from The Fosters moderated a panel of four foster youth shadows with very different experiences in the foster care system.

Watch the full video of the luncheon:

Hearing on the Overmedication of Foster Youth

After a very long day on Capitol Hill, the foster youth came together to attend a House Ways and Means Subcommittee hearing called "Caring for Our Kids: Are We Overmedicating Children in Foster Care?" Recent reports highlight how children in foster care are prescribed psychotropic drugs at very high rates. Dr. Phil and a former foster youth named Dawna Evans provided powerful testimony about why foster youth are often overmedicated.

Watch the full hearing below:

Dr. Phil did a number of interviews about the issue of overmedication of foster youth. Read his interview with The Hill here.

To view photos and video from Shadow Day 2013, click here.