Foster Youth Report Inspires Congress to Act
The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute recently released its 2012 foster youth report, Hear Me Now, which contains comprehensive, well-researched articles written by former foster youth serving as Congressional interns.
The report covers current hot topics, such as psychotropic medication use and human trafficking, as well as enduring systemic issues, such as quality foster parenting, preparing foster youth for adulthood, and Native American issues.
The report contains current research, as well as a number of concrete recommendations for addressing problems. The suggestions reflect an informed, innovative, consumer-driven approach based on the youth's personal experiences. Many of the recommendations incorporate existing programs and models, building upon their concepts to fit the needs of foster youth. Some examples include:
- Linking the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form with information on available Chaffee funds, which are designed to aid students aging out of foster care
- Linking foster youth with the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program, for which 80 percent of graduates receive a high school diploma or GED certificate
- Expanding multidimensional treatment foster care, a model where one or two youth live with carefully recruited, trained, and supported foster parents
- Using social marketing to increase the pool of highly qualified foster parent applicants
- Creating a mentoring program that links U.S. veterans with foster youth
- Using a halfway house model for youth transitioning out of care
- Creating aftercare.gov, which would incorporate and build upon existing websites for youth aging out of foster care
Some of the youth’s recommendations have already sparked legislators to introduce bills. One youth, Harold “R.J.” Sloke, wrote that, when he transferred schools, he often lost credits and had to retake classes because schools did not communicate with one another.
As a result, the Uninterrupted Scholars Act (S. 3472) was introduced Aug. 2. The legislation amends the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act to make it easier for school records to follow children.