The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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West Coast Warriors
Foster youth in California and Oregon fight for change
FYA and CYC staff

Foster Youth in Action, the organization that helped FACE launch, (see our story "Foster Youth Take Charge") also supports the youth-led organizations Oregon Foster Youth Connection (OFYC) and California Youth Connection (CYC). Read about their recent lobbying trips below.

Oregon Youth Storm the Capitol

In Oregon, youth advocates are lobbying for a new state law to allow youth in foster care access to their own savings accounts starting at age 12. They also proposed a new law to get more access to extra-curricular activities for foster youth. Those topics were chosen from a list of policy recommendations created by OFYC members at their summer Policy Conference.

image by Sabina Wilkins
Top left to right: Oregon Senator Steiner Hayward, Cain Stellings, Samson Jones (Adult Supporter); Middle: Michelle Palmer; Foreground: Sabina Wilkins.

Youth advocates with OFYC traveled to the Oregon Capitol in Salem on February 9 to meet with legislators and to advocate for these two policies. Legislators offered support, asked questions and provided suggestions and amendments to the proposed laws. The OFYC legislative team returned to Salem March 16 for the first hearing on their legislation. Amendments will be finalized soon.

California Youth Step Up

On February 9, 2015, over 140 members of California Youth Connection gathered at the California Capitol in Sacramento to meet with legislators and their staff during their annual Day at the Capitol Conference. The members, current and former system-involved youth throughout the state, gathered to advocate on behalf of pregnant and parenting foster youth who face difficulties and need more support. CYC members rallied and shared personal stories and a spoken word performance. CYC members proposed new state legislation, now known as AB 260, which (1) ensures that preventive support services are equally available to parenting youth regardless of the placement setting they live in; and (2) discourages use of irrelevant case file information when determining whether to remove a child from the care of a parenting foster youth.

image by Scott Braley
Left to right: Meredith Ku, Marissa Mason, Paul Solorio, and California Assemblymember Evan Low. Seated: Jordain Rodriguez.

The bill, authored by California State Assembly Member Patty Lopez, will take the next step in the legislative process when it is heard before the Assembly Human Services Committee next month.

Marissa Mason and Tanequa Bailey, CYC youth advocates, say that passing AB260 will be the first step to breaking the cycle of foster care. “Some foster youth may think, ‘I’m not pregnant nor do I have kids, so this doesn’t concern me.’ But you should care; we all should. By age 19, nearly half of young women in foster care have been pregnant. Similarly, by age 21, over half of young men in foster care report having impregnated someone.

“As foster youth, we all have many goals. Some aspire to finish their education, some want to find their life-calling career. And some want to create and raise a family of their own. That is not a goal to be looked down upon, and we should all help advocate to protect one of our most vulnerable populations. Advocating is powerful because it lifts the burdens of our pasts, and makes them lessons that we’ve learned from.”

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