CCAI Names Bethany Haley Interim Executive Director




WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec 18, 2018 – The Board of Directors of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) announced that it has appointed Bethany Haley to the position of Interim Executive Director.

“Bethany brings deep experience and policy expertise in all of the issues that are at the core of CCAI’s mission, having served two Members of Congress and worked closely for years with our late Executive Director, Becky Weichhand. Through her years of helping to manage the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, she developed numerous key relationships in the child welfare community, both on and off the Hill, and is passionate about helping to facilitate bipartisan collaboration on behalf of children in need of families. She is the perfect leader to jump in and keep us moving forward,” said Susan Neely, CCAI Board Vice President and President and CEO of American Council of Life Insurers.

Prior to this role, Bethany worked on Capitol Hill for close to 12 years, first as a communications director and then as a senior policy advisor on domestic and international vulnerable children’s issues. In the latter capacity, working for two recent co-chairs of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, Bethany managed multiple international congressional delegations, hosted briefings and roundtable discussions for Members of Congress and staff, and coordinated bipartisan support for multiple legislative initiatives.

“I am so deeply honored and grateful for the opportunity to carry on the vision and mantle of CCAI that was stewarded so well by my dear friend Becky Weichhand. CCAI’s mission is as urgent and relevant today as it ever was, and I am excited to join with the amazing staff who are equally committed to making family a reality for the many children still waiting,” said Bethany Haley, CCAI Interim Executive Director.

For 17 years, CCAI has been an established resource for the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Coalition on Adoption, the United States Congress’ caucus on adoption and permanency for children. CCAI works to provide federal policymakers with the information and resources needed to make the dream of a family a reality for every child through its core programs, including Angels in Adoption®, the Foster Youth Internship Program®, and 20/20 Vision delegations.

CCAI is governed by a Board of Directors whose members include Susan Neely of the American Council of Life Insurers, Russell Sullivan of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Brad Bondi of Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP, Susan Hirschmann of Williams & Jensen, and Korie and Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty.


The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the millions of children around the world in need of permanent, safe, and loving homes and to eliminating the barriers that hinder these children from realizing their basic right of a family.

 For more information or to learn more about the work of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, visit or contact Kate McLean at or 202.544.8500.

A Message from CCAI on Becky Weichhand

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It is with great sadness that we share the news that our passionate and loving Executive Director, Becky Weichhand, has lost her valiant battle with cancer. She passed away on November 27, 2018 surrounded by family and some of her many friends. We have lost our vibrant leader and dear friend.

A celebration of life was held in Washington, DC on November 30, 2018 at Miracle Theatre. A taping of this service may be viewed here. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to CCAI in honor of Becky’s love, leadership and lifetime commitment to a family for every child. Donations may be made at

The Board of Directors is preparing an interim leadership plan. We will share an update with you soon. The Board along with the staff remain committed to CCAI’s mission. Becky is so deeply missed and we share in grieving the loss of a tremendous individual who touched the lives of so many, and will continue to do so through her legacy of love and grace.

If the CCAI Team can be of assistance during this difficult time, please email us at or call (202) 544-8500. 


A Special Message from a Foster Care Alumnus to Our Veterans

A Special Message from a Foster Care Alumnus to Our Veterans from Terry Scraggins, CCAI 2018 Foster Youth Intern 

As we celebrate National Adoption Month and Veterans Day this November, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) honors all our Veterans, as well as our Foster Youth Interns and Angels in Adoption® Honorees who have served (and are serving) in our military. We asked Terrence (Terry) Scraggins, one of our 2018 Foster Youth Interns and a service member in the U.S. Navy, to share about himself and offer a message to our Veterans.

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Terry with the U.S. Secretary of the Navy, Richard V. Spencer, this summer during the Foster Youth Internship Program®.
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Terry in front of the U.S. Capitol Building this summer. 

Hi everyone! I’m Terry Scraggins.  I am currently in my junior year at Boise State University’s BSW Social Work Program.  I’m also a part-time barista at a local coffee shop here in Boise, Idaho.

Without a doubt I can say that my favorite memory from the Foster Youth Internship Program this summer has to be the Congressional and White House briefing.  Spending the summer with CCAI is an experience only a handful of individuals have the privilege to participate in! Being provided a platform to advocate for tens of thousands of youth in the broken foster care system was empowering and has me yearning to do more.

I have always been a bit of an overachiever in life. The goals I set for myself continuously vary and change depending on what my focus is. I’m planning to complete my bachelor’s in social work by the spring of 2020. At that point, I will decide which path I would like to take on next. I have not yet decided on whether I want to immediately further my education by obtaining a Masters in Social Work or if I want to return to the Navy; fearlessly attempting to become a Naval Officer. I have realized that the United States Navy has prepared me for either path.

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Terry while he was serving time in the Navy. 

Joining the Navy helped me find my voice.  It stripped me down and built me back up again. It showed me I could accomplish anything, as long as I fought for it and put in hard work and dedication. Whenever I get discouraged in any facet of life, I reflect on past Naval experiences and I remember how I was able to get through 18-hour work days when we were out at sea. It is then when many other things in life don’t look too bad anymore.

CCAI and the Foster Youth Internship Program has made quite the impression on my future goals. If I was not given the opportunity to participate in the Foster Youth Internship Program, I never would have realized my passion for policy work and I wouldn’t have realized the impact my passion for policy would have on my future goals and plans. The FYI Program pointed me in the direction of these goals by helping me gain a wealth of knowledge that I would not have gained without this experience.

Other goals aside from my career, include starting a family and becoming a foster and adoptive parent one day, once I am well-established. In the meantime, to take care of myself in this extremely busy lifestyle, I run. I’ve completed two half-marathons and am currently training for a full marathon next summer!

Since my internship this summer, I have continued to be involved and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, specifically those within the child welfare system. Recently, I wrote an op-ed published within The Chronicle of Social Change.  Additionally, I’ve been working with the Family Equality Council to raise awareness about the LGBTQ+ community within foster care.

What is your message to our veterans as we celebrate Veterans Day this year?

Thank you so much for serving our country and signing that dotted line.  Most will never know the full-extent and duties you signed up for when you enlisted.  To those who have lost their lives for our country, thank you for paying the ultimate price so that we can continue to be free.

Terrence (Terry) Scraggins was a participant in the 2018 Foster Youth Internship Program®, one of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s signature programs. To learn more about ways you can get involved with the Foster Youth Interns or National Adoption Month, please visit us at and contact Kate McLean at 

Adoption Gives 2018

CCAI Home Page | Donate Now | Contact Us

Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute
311 Massachusetts Ave, NE, Washington, DC 20002


The 20th Annual Angels in Adoption® Program: A Photo Recap


CCAI’s Angels in Adoption® Program consists of ten events spanning three days of events in Washington, D.C. where individual advocates, families and organizations who have made an extraordinary contribution in the lives of children through adoption or foster care are celebrated by Members of Congress. Our 2018 Angels in Adoption® Honorees joined over 2,600 alum of the program when they traveled to Washington two weeks ago.

Check out some of the highlights from the 20th Annual Angels in Adoption® Program!

2018 Angels in Adoption® Honorees started their week learning about CCAI and other child welfare organizations at CCAI’s Advocacy Fair.
We love to hear about the amazing work that our Angels have done for children all across the nation.
Congressional Coalition on Adoption Member, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), presents his Angel, Ms. Jevonda Pauls, with her Angels in Adoption® Award at the Congressional Senate Breakfast and Pin Ceremony.
Congressional Coalition on Adoption Co-Chair, Representative Robert Aderholt (R-AL), with the Nail family at the Congressional House Luncheon and Pin Ceremony.
Congressional Coalition on Adoption Co-Chair, Representative Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), gives closing remarks at the Congressional House Luncheon and Pin Ceremony.
Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) meets with Angels from the Bossier KIDS organization and the Gros Family during an Angels in Adoption® Hill Day meeting.
D.C. radio personality, Tommy McFly, emcees the Angels in Adoption® Gala.
Congressional Coalition on Adoption Co-Chair, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), delivers opening remarks for the 20th Annual Angels in Adoption® Program Gala.
Congressional Coalition on Adoption Co-Chair, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), gives remarks at the gala.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (left) and Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin gave joint remarks on a plan for a nationwide commitment to eliminate the foster care backlog in the United States.
Former Senator Mary Landrieu (left) introduces 2018 National Angels in Adoption® Claudette and Jack Gerard (not pictured).

Angels 2018

We hope you enjoyed this photo recap of CCAI’s 20th Annual Angels in Adoption® Program. Feel free to share this blog post with others, and be sure to follow CCAI on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Remember to use the hashtag #adoptionangels!

If you would like to make a donation to CCAI’s Angels in Adoption® Program and our mission of children in families, please visit



The Angels in Adoption® Program is a signature program of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

Tools for Transformation: Building a Compassionate Child Welfare System – CCAI’s 2018 Foster Youth Interns Release Report and Recommendations


The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute announces the release of the 2018 Foster Youth Internship Program® Policy Report: Tools for Transformation: Building a Compassionate Child Welfare System.

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Congratulations to our 15th Anniversary Foster Youth Internship (FYI) Program® class on the release of their policy report, Tools for Transformation: Building a Compassionate Child Welfare System! Each of our ten Foster Youth Interns spent the summer not only interning on Capitol Hill but also researching, writing and publishing a report of recommendations on reforming the U.S. child welfare system. Using their personal experiences, the Foster Youth Interns proposed concrete actions that Congress could take to improve child welfare policy.

CCAI’s 15th Anniversary Class of Foster Youth Interns presented their policy report recommendations at a congressional briefing on July 17, 2018, and a White House Administration Briefing on Foster Care Reform on July 23, 2018.

For eleven consecutive years, the FYI Program’s congressional policy report has provided the federal government with real solutions to some of its most challenging problems in the child welfare system. Previous reports have resulted in new federal legislation that helps the over 437,000 children in the U.S. foster care system.

Read the 2018 report here.

Read a summary of their recommendations below:

Brittney Barros (MI): Paving the Way to Sibling Connections

  • Congress should create and pass a National Sibling Bill of Rights, based off of state legislative models, that provides specific guidance on keeping siblings together.
  • Congress should authorize the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to establish a competitive grant program to encourage state child welfare agencies to develop specialized foster care programs designed specifically for sibling groups with a large number, a wide age range, and complex needs.
  • Congress should urge HHS to release, without delay, the December 2016 Final Rule on the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) which contains critical data elements related to sibling placement and separation.

Calli Crowder (OH): Building a Bridge to Adulthood: Supporting Foster Parents So Youth Can Thrive

  • Congress should authorize funds to direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide state child welfare agencies with technical assistance to help them maximize enhanced federal IV-E training dollars to expand and improve foster parent training.
  • Congress should authorize HHS to establish a new National Foster and Adoptive Parents Database (NFAPD) that requires state child welfare agencies to collect and submit key data on foster parents, relative caregivers and adoptive families.
  • Congress should establish a new pool of federal funding that allows states to reimburse foster families for the additional costs of critical youth development and enrichment activities that enhance normalcy, stability and a successful transition into adulthood.

Shay House (CA): One Home, One School: Investing in Placement and Educational Stability for Foster Youth

  • Congress should test targeted community-based recruitment to preserve children’s community connections
  • Congress should ensure training that equips foster parents with the necessary skill set to effectively serve this demographic of youth.
  • Congress should create peer support networks for foster parents.

Cortney Jones (TX): Ensuring Children’s Well-Being by Supporting Kinship Caregivers

  • Congress should allow states to use Title IV-E foster care dollars to fund kinship care services and supports.
  • States must include in their Title IV-E plan details on how they will ensure that all kinship families are made aware of the full range of options and services available through the child welfare agency and in the community.
  • Congress should expand and add additional funding to the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) of the Older Americans Act to ensure that kinship caregivers have access to legal representation.

Noor Kathem (AZ): Connecting Unaccompanied Refugee Minors with Culturally-Competent Foster Families and Comprehensive Support Services

  • Congress should authorize the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement to provide competitive grants that allow states to establish comprehensive Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Navigator Programs that connect URMs with appropriate resources and help them navigate across multiple systems.
  • Congress should direct HHS’s Administration of Children, Youth and Families to establish a competitive program that allows states to develop targeted strategies to recruit and train culturally-competent, trauma-informed foster families for URMs.

Amber Lindamood (WA): Tools for Opportunity: An In-Depth Look at Childhood Trauma and Prevention Services

  • Congress should increase funding for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) programs that allow states to create and expand Family Resource Centers.
  • Congress should require that states include in their Title IV-E state plan details on how standardized assessment tools will be used to identify and address children’s needs.
  • Congress should establish a National Commission to make necessary recommendations to revise the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

Ixchel Martinez (CA): Addressing the Needs of a Nation

  • Congress should authorize competitive state grants through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to assist in the development and implementation of evidence-based and trauma-informed schools that can then be brought to scale across the nation.
  • Congress should direct the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education to collect additional data elements on the educational outcomes of youth in foster care, including attendance, graduation rates, dropout rates, number of foster youth with a learning or developmental disability, number of foster youth receiving IEP services, standardized test scores, suspensions and expulsion rates, grade promotion/retention rates, and number of foster youth enrolled in Low-Performing Schools to be reported in its national data collection efforts through the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS).

Alison Myers (IL): Transforming Extended Foster Care: More Meaningful Preparation for a Brighter Future

  • Congress should require all states to extend foster care to age 21, and give them the option to extend to age 23 while providing states with additional funding grants to implement this requirement.
  • Congress should replace both the current transition plan and the requirements to receive extended care services with the single obligation of following an “Individualized Advancement Plan” (IAP). The IAP would dually serve as a transitional plan from ages 16 – 18 and as the conditions to receive extended care services from ages 18– 23.

Terrence Scraggins (ID): Acceptance and Empowerment: Helping LGBTQ+ Youth in Foster Care through Training, Data Collection and Non-Discrimination Laws

  • HHS should swiftly implement the 2016 Final Rule on AFCARS, including the data elements related to LGBTQ+ youth in foster care. States should begin screening youth, on a voluntary basis, on whether they identify as LGBTQ+.
  • Congress must pass the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (S. 1303/H.R. 2640) to ensure more individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ can become foster parents.
  • Congress should require states to provide training for youth, foster parents and professionals working within the child welfare system on the needs of LGBTQ+ youth in foster care.

Jordan Sosa (CA): You Must Learn: Connecting Foster Youth to Social Capital and Higher Education

  • Congress should authorize grant programs to fund and scale programs like Guardian Scholars in California, which provides comprehensive supports to young people in college who have spent time in the foster care system.
  • Congress should pass the Foster Youth Mentoring Act (H.R. 2952) which creates a grant program within Title IV-B of the Social Security Act to provide mentoring programs for youth in foster care.
  • Congress should pass the Mentoring to Succeed Act (S. 1658) which amends the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 to give the Department of Education the authority to award grants to school-based mentoring programs to assist at-risk students in middle and high school.

We thank all of our Foster Youth Interns for their hard work this summer! We look forward to seeing the results of their recommendations. Learn more about CCAI’s Foster Youth Internship Program® here.

Contact Kate McLean at to learn more about the ways you can support individual interns. There are various needs and opportunities surrounding the program each summer. We would be honored to have you join us in celebrating these advocates.


The Foster Youth Internship Program® is a signature program of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

Life as a Foster Youth Intern: Brittney Barros


June 29, 2018

I started off my Monday nervous. I looked at my intern calendar first thing in the morning and saw I was assigned to my first Capitol Visitors Center (CVC) tour. The beautiful architecture of the Capitol is quite intimidating. How could I express in words to the visitors the historical background this building has? I studied my tour notes anxiously hoping that I would be able to provide the most insightful tour the visitors had ever received. “Brittney, your tour is ready,” I hear my Intern Coordinator call out to me. I greeted my first tour with a big smile and welcoming heart, ready to show them our Nation’s most powerful establishment.

First, we entered the Crypt; next, the Rotunda, making our way through the oldest Supreme Court Chamber and analyzing the exact moments in history where the founding fathers met to establish our Country. After the tour, I thanked them for coming. They praised me for how good of a job I did and how much of an impact the tour had on their knowledge of history and their trip. I share this story to reflect on how as a congressional intern I can impact people’s lives.

Later that week, I had the opportunity to participate in a Latina Leaders Summit for Latinas that want to run for office one day, which fits me perfectly. I heard stories of perseverance from Latina congresswomen, such as State Senator Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) and U.S. Representative Norma Torres (D-CA). They spoke about their trials and tribulations in running for office. Hearing their testimony inspired me as a young Latina with dreams of becoming a public servant.

Finally, to top off the end of the week, I witnessed an immigration protest with over 600 activists fighting for immigrant rights, ending detention camps, and reuniting families. This protest took place at the Hart Senate Building, right where my office is! I looked down from the 7th floor as the protestors chanted “Where are the children?” “We care,” and “Abolish ICE.” I felt goosebumps throughout my body as this organized chaos continued to fight for change. This protest reflected that the power belongs to the people.

I have had amazing opportunities through CCAI and my congressional office. From serving constituents by giving them tours, to witnessing a powerful protest, to going to events impacting my identity and community, this dual internship has provided me with everlasting memories, opportunities, and people with whom I can connect.