Last night, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) gave a floor speech highlighting Amnoni Myers, a member of CCAI’s 2014 Foster Youth Intern Class, and her experience in the United States foster care system. In the blog below, Amnoni tells her story—the adversity she faced in the system and her experiences this summer on Capitol Hill. We are so proud of you, Amnoni!
Growing up in the Department of Children and Families (DCF) was not an easy experience. 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. My Great Aunt took my two siblings and me in and cared for us for ten years. Not having the opportunity to be raised by my biological parents was extremely difficult because I did not have a natural support system to aid me in my success. I encountered trauma at a very young age resulting from various types of abuse and neglect. At the age of ten, I was reunified with my mother but after a short two years, my mother voluntarily returned my siblings and me back to the state without notice. Because incidents of abuse and neglect persisted, DCF took permanent custody of us. At the age of 12, I was placed in non-relative foster homes, where I then continuously moved around until the age of 18. Growing up with so many challenges made me unable to see how my life would eventually be used for good.
My Experience as a Foster Youth Intern
I feel very fortunate that despite the challenges I had to overcome, I was able to attend college and recently graduate with a degree in Social Work and Sociology. Having a college education gives me more opportunities to advocate and give a voice to those without one. In addition to my degree, my life experiences also prepared me for my time as a CCAI Foster Youth Intern this summer. When I applied for the Foster Youth Internship, I was initially afraid of the possibility of opening up and facing my past, but I quickly recognized that this opportunity would be a life-giving experience as I would finally have the chance to give voice and perspective to the challenges that foster youth face. My time on Capitol Hill has been amazing thus far—I have been able grow both personally and professionally. Although I was anxious about whether I was equipped to handle the workload of a Congressional Internship, being here gives me the chance to develop a healthier sense of myself. CCAI’s staff challenge me to reach my maximum potential by putting in my best effort as I write my policy recommendations for Congress and work hard to achieve maximum results while I’m here in the program.
Interning with Senator Grassley
Interning for Senator Chuck Grassley also provides me with an opportunity to develop professionally. The Senator provided a platform for me to share my unique experiences in a way that brings firsthand perspective to the job. I have been able to work on special projects specifically related to federal child welfare policy because the Senator is a leader of the Foster Care Caucus and my perspective is valued in the office because of my journey in the foster care system. My supervisor encourages me to not only share my perspective with her, but also with the other interns in the office. The skills I am learning through CCAI and in the Senator’s office are very transferable, and are preparing me for the next season of my life.
After my summer here with CCAI, I will participate in a fellowship with Bayshore Christian Ministries in East Palo Alto, California, working in community development and serving underprivileged youth and their families. My time here on Capitol Hill has prepared me for this, because I am now able to see how policy directly affects lives. I faced many challenges growing up, and until working in the Senate I was unable to see how Members of Congress advocated for people. But since working with Senator Grassley, I can now see and appreciate all the hard work Members of Congress do. My experience here with CCAI and Senator Grassley give me confidence to continue my advocacy efforts in California. I hope to return to Capitol Hill in the near future because I would like to continue to invest in others in the same way CCAI invests in me!
To read the full transcript of Senator Grassley’s speech, click here. To watch the floor speech, click here.