Conference Shines Light on Foster Care Reform

Many events cover foster care issues, but on July 29, the GRACE organization in coordination with Congresswoman Karen Bass held a standout conference titled “Improving Outcomes for Foster Youth in California.” The convening focused on three critical areas:

–Improving the recruitment, training and support for foster parents
–Improving comprehensive care for foster youth requiring intensive residential-based services
–Identifying and supporting at-risk families prior to intervention

An impressive roster of speakers and panelists participated including Alliance CEO Janis Spire and Congressman Jim McDermott, Assemblymember Holly Mitchell, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Member of Congress Hilda Solis, John Burton and many others.

Janis participated in the first panel and focused on the need to better support relative caregivers who are often treated like the system’s second class citizens. Later in the day, Congressman McDermott commented “why can’t we pay grandma what we’d pay a foster parent to raise her grandchild? This isn’t charity, it’s economic investment.” His comment perfectly articulates the relative equity issue the Alliance is currently focused on remedying.

The conference culminated in a wrap up session overviewing next steps led by Congresswoman Karen Bass. Finally, three former foster youth bravely shared their experiences, including Alliance Youth Council member Tiffany Boyd who moved the room with her honest reflection of her time in care and the work that’s needed to better protect children in the foster care system.  A theme that was repeated throughout the day was that youth and family voices can not be left out of the equation if there are going to be meaningful reforms.

The Alliance was moved by the event and is honored to have been involved. We hope the conversation from GRACE and the powerful voices in attendance move these critical issues to the forefront of the policy agenda so the country can repair our broken child welfare system.