Today, Congresswoman Karen Bass, Founder and Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth issued the following statement in recognition of May as National Foster Care Month:
"May marks a special time of year to raise awareness about the needs of the more than 400,000 youth in the foster care system and to celebrate the thousands of dedicated foster families, social workers and service providers who care for these youth. Although there are plenty of alarming facts and figures that depict a grim picture for foster youth, the resiliency of these youth remains strong and we must do everything we can to support them as they seek to build better lives. Over the past decade, we have seen many promising trends showing that the foster care population has shrunk dramatically for the nation, with most states bringing fewer children into foster care and moving them more quickly to permanency. While a positive sign, we must do more particularly to assist youth who age out of the system and become at a much higher risk of unemployment, homelessness, incarceration or early parenthood. We cannot allow these statistics to shape the reality of our nation's foster youth year after year. All children deserve safe, loving, and permanent homes. And we have a responsibility to continue to create policy that will improve outcomes and the overall wellbeing of foster youth and their families."
Founded in 2011, the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth currently consists of 88 Democrats and Republicans who work in a bipartisan fashion to find consensus around commonsense policies to improve the lives of foster youth. An example was bipartisan passage of the Uninterrupted Scholars Act which was signed into law by President Obama earlier this year. The legislation grants child welfare agencies and caregivers access to foster youth educational records so that when foster youth move throughout the system their school enrollment is not delayed.
This month, on May 21st the caucus will bring dozens of foster youth to Capitol Hill for its second annual "Shadow Day," where members of the caucus will be shadowed by foster youth and share their experiences with lawmakers and officials from the Obama Administration.