Next month, 15 former foster youth will leaves their homes from across the country and head to Washington, DC ready to leave their mark on Capitol Hill in an effort to improve the lives of their 423,000 brothers and sisters still in the foster care system. These 15 individuals are either current college or graduate students, or recent graduates, who are devoting their summer to successfully complete a Congressional internship, participate in advocacy events, discuss their personal experience with policymakers and advocates, and network with some of the country’s most respected leaders on these issues in further impact foster care reform.
CCAI is looking forward to spending a life-changing summer with Kadidjia Adula (NY), Marjorie Delgadillo (CA), Lakeshia Dorsey (CA), Ruth Jimenez (NJ), Mitsu Klines (ID), Linda Lee (FL), Marisela Ortiz (WA), Desiree Parker (WI), Amy Peters (NE), Jessie Peterson (CA), Derrick Riggins (FL), Melanie Roberts (MO), Madison Sandoval-Lunn (NV), Richard Terrell (MN), and Taatianna VanReed (VA).
When asked what they are most looking forward to about the opportunity to be a 2011 Foster Youth Intern , many of the interns recognized their responsibility to share their story and ultimately promote the well-being of children in care. Desiree responds, “I am most excited about what a great opportunity this will be for me to learn about government and other aspects of foster care. I am looking forward to taking what I learn back with me and helping more foster youth, like myself, further their futures.”
Amy agrees, stating, “I’m very excited about spending the entire summer in Washington D.C., to learn about the legislative process while advocating for something I’m so passionate about. I’m grateful to have this opportunity use my story and voice to make a difference on a national level. ”
Melanie says, “I’m looking forward to learning as much as I possibly can to help provide a voice for the many children who may have otherwise never be heard!”.
Jessie responds, “I am so excited to learn! I believe this is going to be an extremely beneficial experience where I gain knowledge through the work I do, people I meet, places I see and go, and so much more. As a result, I will be successful in aiding those youth still in the foster care system today and in the future”.
Richard sums it up by saying he is planning on, “Going to D.C, working with Congress, and working hard for change.”
CCAI is excited to share that the following offices will be hosting Foster Youth Interns this year: Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE), Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), Senate Finance Committee Majority, Senate Finance Committee Minority, and House Committee on Ways and Means Majority.
It is not easy after a life of being uprooted and displaced to once again leave behind everything and everyone for a summer of the unknown. As a testament to their unbelievable character, these individuals did just that, continually stepping out of their comfort zone to reach for the common goal they had each individually set: to improve the foster care system for their brother and sisters currently in care.