As Featured in CCAI’s 2014 Annual Report.
Click Here to read CCAI’s 2014 Annual Report!
Describe your time in foster care.
I became a ward of the state the day I was born, addicted to drugs and abandoned in the hospital as a result of my parents’ involvement with drugs, criminal activity and poverty. I encountered trauma at a very young age resulting from various types of abuse and neglect. Not being raised by my biological parents was extremely difficult as I did not have a natural support system throughout my life. At the age of 10, I was reunified with my mother but after two short years, my mother voluntarily returned my siblings and me back to the state without notice. I was placed in foster homes and continuously moved around from home to home until the age of 18. When I aged out of the foster care system, I had little support and stability and concluded that foster parents seemed more interested in the economic benefits of caring for me, rather than loving me as if I was one of their own.
Describe your experience with the Foster Youth Internship Program™.
Every summer, the Foster Youth Internship Program™ provides young adults like me an opportunity to give perspective and voice to the challenges that foster youth face by sharing our personal experiences within the system to Members of Congress and their staff. I was often told that my experiences would never be used for good, but being an “FYI” with CCAI changed that. As a Foster Youth Intern, I interned last summer for Senator Grassley. When he highlighted my life story on the U.S. Senate Floor, I quickly realized that my story had significance and understood that Congress does care.
My experience on Capitol Hill through CCAI’s Foster Youth Internship Program™ was maximized because I had the opportunity to not only intern on Capitol Hill, but to write a report on federal child welfare policy and brief both Congress and the White House Domestic Policy Council on issues that I care deeply about. Never in my life did I imagine I would be afforded an opportunity such as this. CCAI helped me grow in my confidence and, even today, the caring CCAI staff gently push me to reach my potential, both personally and professionally. I am really thankful I decided to intern with CCAI, because they opened a window of hope for me and so many others.
What impact do you think you have made for children and youth currently in the foster care system through CCAI’s Foster Youth Internship Program™?
You never really know the impact you have on a person, place or even an entire system in the moment. Last summer was all about planting seeds that will take shape and grow for the next generation of foster youth. You don’t always see change happen immediately, but if you continue to fight for justice and persevere, transformation happens.
Just recently, I met two young girls who are in the foster care system. After sharing my story and the work I did this summer with CCAI, they immediately thanked me for fighting for them. Conversations like this are when I realize the work I was doing as a Foster Youth Intern made a difference. Striving to make an impact on someone’s life goes far beyond just doing what seems good. It is doing good in the face of adversity and having the perspective that one day it will produce results, even if you can’t see it right away.
What are you currently up to?
I recently began an internship at the White House with the Domestic Policy Council on Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity. This would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of CCAI’s staff and the opportunity to brief this same office during the Foster Youth Internship Program™. After completing the FYI Program last summer I was really nervous and anxious about pursuing the White House internship. The CCAI staff were some of my biggest cheerleaders through the application process. CCAI has become more than a place I interned with. They have become my family. The Foster Youth Internship Program™ helped instill confidence in me, and has given me the tools necessary to continue on the journey of advocating for foster youth and helping to raise up the next generation of leaders.
Click Here to read more of CCAI’s 2014 Annual Report!