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Foster Youth Shadow Day

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. LANGEVIN. Mr. Speaker, I am proud today to participate in the Foster Youth Shadow Day Program in honor of National Foster Youth Month. Many of my colleagues today have been paired with a foster youth to give them a firsthand glimpse of life in and around the Capitol. It is our goal to encourage them to nurture their innate talents, develop their leadership qualities, and even explore potential careers here in Washington. I would like to thank all of the cochairs of the Congressional Caucus of Foster Youth, of which I am proud to be a member, for planning this important event today.

I am also pleased to be paired with Dee Saint-Franc, a young woman who shows us all what determination and perseverance truly look like. Coming from a family that took in foster children, one of my priorities in Congress has been to ensure that this population has every opportunity to access and achieve success. Drawing on her personal experiences and leadership abilities, Dee has emerged as a strong advocate on this issue.

I have had the privilege of working with Dee on issues affecting youth in the foster care system, and I have deep respect for her commitment, courage, and capabilities. Among her many accomplishments, she has demonstrated tremendous passion and skill through her role as board cochair of The Voice and as Rhode Island's delegate to the New England Youth Coalition. She attained an associate's degree in business management from Johnson & Wales University, and works for the Rhode Island Foster Parents Association.

Dee came under the care of the Department of Children, Youth and Families at the age of 7 years old. She lived in group homes and with foster families, and, unfortunately, at some point along the way became a victim of identity theft. This issue of identity theft came to my attention a few years ago, and Dee's personal story, as well as the stories of numerous other foster youth brave enough to step forward, was crucial in passing legislation to deal with this problem.

I'm pleased to report that last year President Obama signed into law the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act, which contained a provision I authored to address identity theft in the foster care system. The measure requires States to provide foster youth ages 16 and older with a free copy of any consumer credit report pertaining to them while under State care, and to fix any problems if they are found so that when the child leaves State care, they do so with their identity and their credit intact. While this law would have protected Dee and others like her, she has nevertheless persevered and has done remarkable work with her peers in Rhode Island.

Moving forward, Congress needs to do its part to further support Dee's efforts to level the playing field for foster youth. I'm proud to support bipartisan legislation being introduced by caucus Members today to remove obstacles to ensuring that foster youth get the education that they deserve. We can all take simple steps to help them apply for State benefits and financial aid they need when they age out of the system, and I have introduced legislation for that very purpose.

Now at the age of 22, I am pleased to report that Dee is attending Rhode Island College, my alma mater, to pursue a bachelor's degree in social work. I'm also proud that Dee is working to give something back to her community, and wants to focus her academic career in the area for which she is uniquely qualified. She is a role model for her daughter and for all of us here today. And perhaps, Mr. Speaker, one day she will be down speaking on the House floor herself in the not-too-distant future. I thank everyone for their support of Foster Care Awareness Month.


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