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Congresswoman Bass, Chair and Co- Founder of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth meets with foster youth Marcy Valenzuela in Washington.
Congresswoman Bass addresses foster youth and Members of Congress during the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth's annual Shadow Day luncheon.
In addition to visiting with Members of Congress, the foster youth also met at the White House with Obama Administration officials to discuss reforming the foster care system.
At the White House the youth told their stories from growing up in foster care and offered suggestions on how President Obama can address some of the challenges they faced. (photos courtesy of the Office of Congresswoman Karen Bass.)
Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth hosted 50 foster youth from Los Angeles and around the nation for the 2nd Annual “Shadow Day” in Washington.
The youth were paired with Members of Congress, where they shadowed them to hearings, meetings, floor votes, and other activities throughout the day. The youth also visited the White House and shared their stories with officials from the Obama Administration.
African-Americans make up nearly a third of youth in foster care, far outpacing their overall share of the population. Foster youth are more likely to be unemployed, homeless, incarcerated or not graduate from high school. In Congresswoman Bass’ home state of California, 70 percent of inmates are former foster youth and African Americans make up a disproportionate share of that number.
While more work is left to be done, the number of African Americans in the foster care system has declined by more than 40 percent over the past decade compared with more modest declines of 10 to 18 percent across other ethnic groups. Many factors attribute for this decline, including improvements in offering support to help keep families together before a child is removed from the home and placed in the foster care system.
“As Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth I was honored to join my colleagues in bringing the voices of these youth directly to the policymakers with the capacity to change the lives of thousands of foster youth around the country. I’m often asked what is it that foster youth need the most and my response is always the same which is that they need all the things that any other young person needs,” said Congresswoman Bass. “They need love and support and to know that there are people out there who care about their wellbeing and are willing to provide the resources to see them reach their full potential. Our caucus is dedicated to finding bipartisan proposals to do just that.”
The Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth consists of 104 Democrats and Republicans who work in a bipartisan fashion to address the challenges facing all foster youth and to develop policy recommendations for improving child welfare outcomes.