FosterClub All-Star Greta Anderson Testifies at Congressional Hearing in Washington D.C.

First-hand perspective is provided by a youth from foster care at a Congressional Hearing regarding the Foster Connections to Success And Increased Adoption Opportunities Act of 2008
 
Sept. 17, 2009 - PRLog -- Last Tuesday, Greta Anderson spoke before the Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support of the House Committee on Ways and Means.  The Hearing was called by Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA), Chairman of the Subcommittee, to review the implementation of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-351).

Anderson, age 21, is a former foster youth of Wisconsin and currently attends the University of Wisconsin-Stout in pursuit of a master’s degree in art therapy. She spoke about the impact the Act and other legislation has had on her financial aid to continue her educational goals. “Access to funding and services make it possible for me to concentrate on my studies and not be faced with choosing to drop out to support myself with a minimum wage jobs,” stated Anderson during her testimony. “Doors have opened because now I am eligible for many more potential grant and loan prospects.”

Anderson testified along with a panel of child welfare professionals and advocates regarding the implementation and implication of the Act across the country. Other esteemed panelists represented the Child Welfare League of America, American Bar Association, State Child Welfare Agencies in Maryland and Illinois, and the National Congress of American Indians.

Last September, Congress passed the bipartisan Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act to provide for the most significant changes in child welfare policy in over a decade.  Young leaders of FosterClub played a key role in advocating for the legislation as part of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Kids Are Waiting campaign.

The new law includes specific requirements aimed at improving the oversight of foster kids’ health care needs, educational stability, and connection to family members.  It provides additional Federal assistance to support caseworker training, to directly assist children in tribal foster care, and to promote policies that provide support and incentives for adopting children out of the foster care system.  Finally, the law establishes two new important options for States to improve outcomes for children in foster care: (1) Federal matching payments for States choosing to provide assistance to grandparents and other relatives who become legal guardians of foster children; and (2) Federal matching payments for States choosing to continue foster care assistance up to the age of 21 for youth engaged in school, work, or other constructive activities.

In announcing the hearing, Chairman McDermott stated, “Our action last fall to improve the child welfare system represented a bipartisan, bicameral commitment to work together to significantly improve the lives of our most vulnerable children.  But our work is not done.   We need to both ensure a successful implementation of this new law and continue to work to improve other aspects of the system in need of reform.”

“Fostering Connections improve opportunities for young people like Greta to pursue their educational dreams, achieve permanence, and successfully transition into adulthood,” said Celeste Bodner, Executive Director of FosterClub. “We are extremely proud Greta was able to represent the voice of foster youth at this Hearing. We applaud Congressman McDermott’s appreciation for the importance of consumer voice when shaping federal child welfare policy.”

In the closing remarks of her testimony, Anderson said, “This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Foster Care Independence Act, which established the Chafee Program and created new opportunities for youth aging out of foster care to achieve their goals and dreams. The Fostering Connections Act builds on the legacy of Chafee to expand opportunities to more foster youth, and allows states to truly ‘foster’ our potential as a parent would.  Thank you for supporting me and my 513,000 brothers and sisters in foster care.”

More information about the hearing, along with video of Anderson’s testimony, may be found at www.fosterclub.org.

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FosterClub is the national network for young people in foster care. FosterClub's mission is to improve life for young people in foster care through a national network that is built for youth and powered by youth. The organization is founded on the principle that young people in and from foster care deserve to be connected, informed, inspired and represented. At www.fosterclub.org, kids ask questions and get answers. They discover other successful former foster youth, share opinions about their foster care experience, get recognition for overcoming obstacles, and connect with supportive adults. FosterClub helps open the way for youth in foster care to transform their lives and provides a forum for them to share their experiences and make a difference.
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