Weekly News Digest: October 5th through 12th, 2017

Advocacy Needed in Child Welfare System 

  • The New York Times reports that a class action lawsuit was filed last week in New York as parents with intellectual disabilities claim they have been discriminated against based on their disabilities. According to the article, advocates in many different parts of the country have been pressuring child welfare agencies to provide more support for parents with intellectual disabilities.
  • Jezebel and Rise Magazine continue their joint effort to shed light on the experiences of parents involved with the child welfare system. In this article, two mothers share how they were foster youth themselves, and then found themselves as mothers with children involved with foster care. These two women discuss how their own experiences in childhood ultimately helped them became fierce advocates for their children, themselves, and their family.

DAI Reflection: With growing pressures on today’s families, more so than ever before, we need to ensure families have the support they need to stay strong. It is particularly important that services are always tailored to a family’s unique needs and experiences. When child welfare professionals show themselves to be advocates with families and when society is able to provide the resources and supports necessary, kids will be safer and families stronger. Check out DAI’s advocacy work to ensure equitable and ethical practices in child welfare related systems.

Youth and Homelessness

  • An article in The Guardian provides raw insight into the lives of homeless youth in San Francisco. The article details some alarming statistics; 1 in 25 public school students in San Francisco is homeless, one in four homeless youth under age 25 was formerly in foster care, and one in five foster alum is anticipated to experience homelessness within four years of leaving care. Additionally, nearly half of San Francisco’s homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, often having left unsupportive or abusive home situations. Behind every number, though, lies a human story and this article both candidly and empathically recounts the real-life experience of what it is to be young and homeless. Perhaps the most chilling quote from the article comes from Eliza Reock, child sex trafficking specialist for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. She states “I’ve heard from some kids that prostitution may be a better choice for them than what they feel they’re facing in a foster situation.”

DAI’s Reflection: Young people must be the priority of our entire country. In particular, we must ensure support and resources for vulnerable youth, including LGBTQ youth, youth in foster care, as well as those transitioning out of care. Our foster care system is undoubtedly in need of a dramatic shift in policy and practice. It is up to us to rally together and ensure all children have the opportunities and the context that supports their development in becoming a healthy adult. Read DAI’s work on the need to adopt reform in many areas that serve kids and young adults.

Foster Alum Advocates

  • A personal narrative in Youth Today by Dr. Vivian Dorset discusses her experiences not as a researcher but as a former foster youth, her struggles into adulthood, and her involvement with the Foster Care Alumni of America, a national organization of foster alum that focuses on advocacy and family. Read Dr. Dorset’s full piece and her call for advocacy from those who know the system best: the ones who lived the experience. 
  • The Chronicle of Social Change highlights the work of 24-year-old foster alum, Johna Rivers, who founded a film festival in 2015 that provides a space for foster youth and alum to tell their stories. The Real to Reel Global film festival showcases film produced by youth aged 14 to 23 that focus on social issues, highlighting the strengths but also the struggles and the need to raise awareness of the real experiences of foster youth and alum.

DAI’s Reflection: The systems that serve foster and adopted youth must always include the voices of those most deeply connected the experience. These individuals, regardless of educational background, have tremendous insight to offer, as well as innovative solutions to give. DAI urges those with a personal connection to adoption and foster care to share their experiences as a meaningful way to educate. Check out DAI’s Adoption Experience Gallery to learn more about living adoption and foster care. 

Adopted People Lack Citizenship

  • An alarming report in the Korea Times estimates that 14,189 adopted persons in the US that were born in South Korea lack US citizenship. In the wake of the high profile deportation of Adam Crapser as well as the tragic suicide of Philip Clay, the plight of persons adopted internationally facing and experiencing deportation has led to international attention and a resounding cry for immediate action. According to the article, although the US has passed the Child Citizenship Act, this law did not retroactively apply to those who were adults at the time of its passage. Advocates, domestically and abroad, urge the United States to pass legislation that would be applicable to all internationally born persons adopted by US citizens, even those who are currently adults.

DAI’s Reflection: It is imperative that we stop treating adopted people as ‘less than’. For those born abroad and adopted by US citizens as children, it is critical that the permanency of that adoption stands into their adulthood. This is what the United States has always upheld about adoption-that it provides a ‘forever family’. We cannot have it both ways. DAI urges our government to immediately pass the Adoptee Citizenship Act in order to maintain our national promise and secure the safety and permanency of our brothers and sisters who were adopted from international countries as children. Read DAI’s piece detailing the need to ensure adoption is viewed as a lifelong transformation, not a one-time transaction.