Foster Care Month press conference on Capitol Hill today

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and U.S. Rep. Karen Bass held a press conference today to mark National Foster Care Month.  Two long-time foster care champions, Landrieu and Bass shared their personal history and connection to this vital issue, as did former foster youth working on Capitol Hill and in D.C., including a staff member working in Senator Landrieu’s office.  On this same day, Bass introduced the Foster Care Mentoring Act, the companion bill to legislation introduced by Senator Landrieu in March.

CCAI leads delegation to Guatemala

On April 23-26, 2011 a delegation of U.S. government officials and private business leaders participated in a fact-finding trip to Guatemala, visiting Guatemala City, Antigua, and the village of Sumpango. The delegation, led by Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, had two principle purposes: to represent the U.S. families who have been waiting the completion of their transition adoption for nearly four years and to encourage the Guatemalan government to establish a child welfare system that is family-based. The Guatemalan government passed a new adoption law in 2007, and since that time has been working to implement it. International adoption from Guatemala is suspended but according to their central adoption authority (CNA) there have been approximately 400 domestic adoptions since 2007. As with all delegations, the trip included site visits, official meetings with key government officials, and opportunities to meet and interact with leaders from the private sector in Guatemala.

To read the full report from the delegation, click here.

What does Mother’s Day mean to a former foster youth?

Lacy, a former Foster Youth Intern, shares what Mother’s Day means to her this year as she is in the process of being adopted at 27 years old.

In thinking about Mother’s Day, and in finalizing my adoption with my long time parents, I was asked about what Mother’s Day means to me this year, and to me that means thinking about what has changed since getting closer to finalizing the adoption.

To be honest, I’m not sure that much about the relationship has changed – my adoptive mother has always been there, been available when I needed to talk to someone about life and what that bring, and has always had an open door for me to go through when needed.  I do think, however, that my willingness to accept these things from her has changed dramatically over the years. Despite me leaving their home upon turning 18 to attend college, and going through years where I didn’t think I needed parents (because I knew everything I needed to know at 18, right? ) there availability and being there has been unwavering.

Lacy and her mom

Over time, seeing that consistency, has allowed me to trust that consistency a little more every time I needed it. So despite the times that I thought I was completely alone, and that I had no one, the truth is the relationship and security I so desperately sought was always there – it was a matter of me being open to it. In regards to Mother’s Day, I feel that I am still learning what a mother is, more importantly what a mother role looks like in my life, but because of the solidification that adoption brings, and the consistency that my adoptive parents have brought to my life, I have no doubt that whatever I think a mother is to me, I know that she will be there.

Happy Mother’s Day!!

–Lacy Kendrick Burk

Celebrate National Foster Care Month

This month, foster care advocates across the country will be celebrating National Foster Care Month in hopes of raising awareness about the needs of children in foster care and highlighting the good work being done on their behalf.

Over 423,000 children are currently in foster care in the U.S.  Of these, 115,000 are waiting to be adopted.  It is important that we devote resources to ensuring these children can be moved into safe and loving homes to experience the stability and hope for a future that each child wants and deserves.

To show support for this important issue, President Obama issued a National Foster Care Month proclamation which states, “Progress in America can be measured by the opportunities we pass on to our children.  For nearly half a million youth in foster care across our country, the best path to success we can give them is the chance to experience a loving home where they can feel secure and thrive.  During National Foster Care Month, we renew our commitment to ensuring a brighter future for foster youth, and we celebrate the selfless individuals who make a meaningful difference in their lives.”

I want to encourage you to use this month as an opportunity to get more involved in this effort in hopes of improving the lives of children in foster care forever.  It does not take much to make a difference—here are some easy ways you can celebrate this month:

  • Post on your twitter or facebook about the needs of children in foster care and encourage others to step forward
  • Attend an information session at your local Child and Family Services office to learn about mentoring, fostering, or adopting
  • Encourage your local, state, and federal elected officials to show their support through media or event appearances
  • Ask your community group, local organizations, or church to highlight foster children during this month

For other ideas and information, visit the National Foster Care Month website,, or the Child Welfare Information Gateway.

When the school of hard knocks sets its sights on the pinnacle of power

CCAI Advisory Board Member Lindsay Ellenbogen writes about a former Foster Youth Intern for the The Hill‘s pundits blog today:

When Jetaine Hart came to Washington in 2009, she was well-accustomed to cramming the trappings of her life into a few small suitcases and moving them from place to place. By age 20, she moved to six different homes in northern California, each time uprooting the familiar for the unknown. Jetaine wasn’t what we affectionately call an “Army brat,” whose family moved periodically as service required; she was a child in foster care. Moving was not her choice; it’s what happened to her by chance.

But the move to Washington was different: first, because she wanted it; and second, because it was filled with promise, opportunity. Through a little-known program on Capitol Hill that gives former foster youth access to the privileged world of summer internships, Jetaine applied for a chance to start her professional life. Each year, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute selects 15 kids who spent time in foster care and places them in congressional offices. To qualify, these talented interns must attend college, a high bar that less than 3 percent of kids in foster care reach. Jetaine, with bachelor’s in hand, started her climb on Capitol Hill in the office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).

Read the full article here.