2015 Foster Youth Internship Program™ Congressional Report and Briefing Release

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We are pleased to share with you the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s 2015 Foster Youth Internship (FYI) Program™ report Embracing Our Past, Empowering Their Future: Why Child Welfare Reform Matters. We hope you are enlightened and inspired as you read personal accounts and innovative solutions from the Foster Youth Interns as they highlight areas of child welfare in need of reform and propose creative policy solutions to federal policymakers.

The electronic copy of the report is now available HERE, and a video of the Congressional Briefing is available HERE!

This year’s policy topics include:

  • Foster Children of Parents with Serious Mental Illness: A Forgotten Population
  • Collecting Relevant Information to Address Adoption Disruption and Dissolution: It’s Not Just About the Numbers
  • Increasing Positive Outcomes for African-American Males in the Foster Care System through Adoption
  • Addressing the Overuse of Psychotropic Medication Among Foster Children
  • Every Life Matters: Trauma-Informed Training and Peer-to-Peer Support Groups to Prevent Foster Youth and Alumni Suicide
  • “Family Group Homes” as a Chance at Normalcy for “Hard-to-Place” Teens
  • Redefining Homeless: Improving the Outcomes for Aged Out Foster Youth
  • Closing the Educational Gap: Addressing the Need for Educational-Vocational Specialists
  • Fostering a Culture of Silence: The Need to Improve Reporting of Sexual Abuse in Foster Care
  • Investing in Foster Youth’s Futures: Improving Access to Extracurricular Activities and Supportive Relationships
  • Reaching Higher Goals: Improving Educational Outcomes for Foster Youth
  • Mental Health for Foster Children: Creating Consistency Among States

To learn more about the FYI Program, please visit www.ccainstitute.org.

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2015 Foster Youth Internship Policy Report Preview: Adoption of African-American Males and Adoption Dissolution

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Twelve current and former foster youth are participating in CCAI’s Foster Youth Internship program, spending their summer interning for Members of Congress on Capitol Hill. On Tuesday, July 28 at a Congressional Briefing, they will use their legislative knowledge combined with their personal experience to educate federal policymakers on opportunities for reform in the U.S. foster care system. Each intern has researched and will provide a preview of two of the interns’ report topics.

Lindsey

Lindsey Harrington, Age 21

Internship assignment: Representative Paul Ryan  (R-WI) Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee

Report focus: Increasing adoptions of African-American males in foster care

Why it’s important to Lindsey: “Without permanency, African-American males are the ones who are most likely to bounce around the child welfare system and age out without a family to call their own.”

Destiny

Destiny Reid, Age 20

Internship assignment: Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Report focus: Disrupted and dissolution adoptions

Why it’s important to Destiny: “I am a product of a failed adoption. People only see the good sides of adoption and an adoption failing is hardly ever talked about in communities or in the media. A recommendation that  I am working on is how the government should start tracking disrupted and dissolution adoptions.”

Be sure to attend the Congressional Briefing on Tuesday, July 28 to learn about Lindsey’s and Destiny’s policy recommendations on increasing adoptions of African-American males in foster care and how to address and try to prevent failed adoptions. If you are unable to make it, you can download a copy of the report at www.ccainsitute.org once it is released on the 28th!

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2015 Foster Youth Intern Policy Report Preview: Psychotropic Medications and Supports for Foster Children of Parents with Serious Mental Illness

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Twelve current and former foster youth are participating in CCAI’s Foster Youth Internship program, spending their summer interning for Members of Congress on Capitol Hill. On Tuesday, July 28 at a Congressional Briefing, they will use their legislative knowledge combined with their personal experience to educate federal policymakers on opportunities for reform in the U.S. foster care system. Each intern has researched and will present creative policy solutions on a range of topics. For the six days leading up to the briefing, we will provide a preview of two of the interns’ report topics.

Matthew

Matthew Broderick, Age 22

Internship assignment: Representative Markwayne Mullin (R-OK)

Report focus: Overuse of psychotropic medications for youth in foster care

Why it’s important to Matthew: “I watched my little sister turn into a completely different person. These medications caused her to be in a constant zombie-like state, and it was frightening.”

Cierrena

Cierrena Spataro-Haynes, Age 24

Internship assignment: Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI)

Report focus: Supports for foster children of parents with Serious Mental Illness (SMI)

Why it’s important to Cierrena: “I was not prepared for my experience in court-ordered supervised visitation with my biological mother who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. I had to make sense of my biological mother’s behaviors without any direction.”

Be sure to attend the Congressional Briefing on Tuesday, July 28 to learn about Matthew’s and Cierrena’s policy recommendations on psychotropic medication and visitations with biological children for youth in foster care. If you are unable to make it, you can download a copy of the report at www.ccainstitute.org once it is released on the 28th!

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2015 Foster Youth Intern Policy Report Preview: Transition Strategy For Youth Leaving Care and Suicide Prevention Through Trauma-Informed Training and Peer Support Groups

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Twelve current and former foster youth are participating in CCAI’s Foster Youth Internship program, spending their summer interning for Members of Congress on Capitol Hill. On Tuesday, July 28 at a Congressional Briefing, they will use their legislative knowledge combined with their personal experience to educate federal policymakers on opportunities for reform in the U.S. foster care system. Each intern has researched and will present creative policy solutions on a range of topics. For the six days leading up to the briefing, we will provide a preview of two of the interns’ report topics.

Marcia

Marcia Hopkins, Age 26

Internship assignment: Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)

Report focus:  Transition strategy for youth leaving care and redefining the definition of homelessness

Why it’s important to Marcia:Every year in the U.S. approximately 200,000 youth exit care without permanent connections.  Due to the lack of permanent connections and limited resources, youth are further prohibited from securing stability after care, leading to other negative life outcomes like homelessness.”

Brianne

Brianne Lyn Nagamine, Age 20

Internship assignment: Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI)

Report focus: Suicide Prevention Through  Trauma-informed training and peer support groups for youth in foster care

Why it’s important to Brianne: “I experienced multiple forms of trauma and grieved for all the loss in my life. I became depressed and struggled with suicidal thoughts. Foster youth can benefit from peer support groups because it brings other like-minded foster youth together to share their pain, stories and help one another heal from their grief and trauma.”

Be sure to attend the Congressional Briefing on Tuesday, July 28 to learn about Marcia’s and Brianne’s policy recommendations on improving the transition planning process and trauma-informed education and access to peer support groups for youth in foster care. If you are unable to make it, you can download a copy of the report at www.ccainsitute.org once it is released on the 28th!

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2015 Foster Youth Intern Policy Report Preview: Increasing Participation in Extracurricular Activities and Higher-education Opportunities for Youth in Foster Care

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Twelve current and former foster youth are participating in CCAI’s Foster Youth Internship program, spending their summer interning for Members of Congress on Capitol Hill. On Tuesday, July 28 at a Congressional Briefing, they will use their legislative knowledge combined with their personal experience to educate federal policymakers on opportunities for reform in the U.S. foster care system. Each intern has researched and will present creative policy solutions on a range of topics. For the six days leading up to the briefing, we will provide a preview of two of the interns’ report topics.

Keri

Keri Richmond, Age 21

Internship assignment: Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)

Report focus: Foster youth participation in extracurricular activities

Why it’s important to Keri: “I wouldn’t be the first in my family to go to college or intern on Capitol Hill if it weren’t for the many mentors I met through extracurricular activities who believed in me, encouraged me, and helped me grow to be the confident woman I am today.”

Kenya

Kenya Adeola, Age 23

Internship assignment: Senator Tim Scott (R-SC)

Report focus: Higher-education opportunities for youth in foster care

Why it’s important to Kenya: “Even though there is a lack of funding and opportunity for youth in foster care to access out-of-state universities, I did it and it was the best decision of my life. Without my education, my life would be very different.”

Be sure to attend the Congressional Briefing on Tuesday, July 28 to learn about Keri’s and Kenya’s policy recommendations on increasing participation in extracurricular activities and higher-education opportunities for youth in foster care. If you are unable to make it, you can download a copy of the report at www.ccainsitute.org once it is released on the 28th!

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2015 Foster Youth Intern Policy Report Preview: Mental Health Screenings and Sexual Education

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Twelve current and former foster youth are participating in CCAI’s Foster Youth Internship program, spending their summer interning for Members of Congress on Capitol Hill. On Tuesday, July 28 at a Congressional Briefing, they will use their legislative knowledge combined with their personal experience to educate federal policymakers on opportunities for reform in the U.S. foster care system. Each intern has researched and will present creative policy solutions on a range of topics. For the six days leading up to the briefing, we will provide a preview of two of the interns’ report topics.

Jennessa

Jennessa Ahline, Age 23

Internship assignment: Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO)

Report focus: Importance of mental health screenings for youth in foster care

Why it’s important to Jennessa: “Foster youth experience traumatic upbringings that I believe could be mitigated with appropriate outreach and treatment.”


Ashley New Photo

Ashley Williams, Age 25

Internship assignment: Representative Karen Bass (D-CA)

Report focus: Implementing sexual education for youth in foster care

Why it’s important to Ashley: “I believe that had I been properly equipped [with knowledge] when I entered the foster care system I may have been able to avoid the unwanted sexual encounters that I experienced in the system. Age-appropriate sexual education is important because it gives children the tools they need to protect themselves.”

Be sure to attend the Congressional Briefing on Tuesday, July 28 to learn about Jennessa’s and Ashley’s policy recommendations on mental health screenings and sexual education for youth in foster care. If you are unable to make it, you can download a copy of the report at www.ccainstitute.org once it is released on the 28th!

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2015 Foster Youth Intern Policy Report Preview: Educational Opportunities & Group Homes

 

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Twelve current and former foster youth are participating in CCAI’s Foster Youth Internship ™ program, spending their summer interning for Members of Congress on Capitol Hill. On Tuesday, July 28 at a Congressional Briefing, they will use their legislative knowledge combined with their personal experience to educate federal policymakers on opportunities for reform in the U.S. foster care system. Each intern has researched and will present creative policy solutions. For the six days leading up to the briefing, we will provide a preview of two of the interns’ report topics.

Angelique

Angelique Salizan, Age 23

Internship Assignment: Senate Finance Committee/Minority- Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Report focus: Education opportunities for youth in foster care

Why it’s important to Angelique:If I did not have the guidance from my educational-vocational specialist at my agency, I would not have embarked on the many educational opportunities I have had. I also would not have achieved my biggest accomplishment to date, earning my bachelor’s degree in Psychology.”

Erik

Erik Barrus, Age 29

Internship assignment: Senate Finance Committee/Majority- Sen Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

Report focus: Importance of smaller, independently-run group homes for foster youth

Why it’s important to Erik:I was one of those so-called troubled teens who was just looking for a place to feel loved and call home. I want to be able to provide this opportunity to others who want a home but don’t know how to go about securing it. I believe that every child deserves to have access to a loving home environment. Small family-style group homes are able to provide that to older children who would otherwise be subject to the negative environment that is most often abundant in the larger, warehouse-type group homes.”

Be sure to attend the Congressional Briefing on Tuesday, July 28 to learn about Angelique and Erik’s policy recommendations on education opportunities and group home living for youth in foster care. If you are unable to make it, you can download a copy of the report at www.ccainstitute.org once it is released on the 28th!

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