Updated: On November 5, Lexie Gruber co-hosted an online Town Hall with Anne Holton. As the wife of Vice Presidential Candidate Tim Kaine, Holton is poised to play a key role in child welfare policy if Hillary Clinton prevails in Tuesday’s election. You can tune in to watch the event HERE.
When I was in foster care and needed strength and inspiration, Hillary Clinton was there. Well, kind of.
That is why I co-founded Foster Youth for Hillary, a network of foster youth who are organizing to support Clinton’s run for the White House.
I entered the Connecticut foster care system when I was 15 years old. Within a few months I wound up in a short-term youth shelter because there weren’t any foster homes in my hometown willing to take in a teenager. My social worker promised that they’d find me a better place to live quickly, and I spent the next few months longing for the sense of stability that always seemed to evade me.
Shelter life was nothing short of depressing. But, in the midst of chaos, I found hope.
It was the summer of 2008, and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign was in full swing. I spent hours watching her on television with admiration, and adorned the wall above my bed with a ripped cover of Forbes Magazine with her on the front. I bought a water-damaged copy of her book, Living History, for $2 at a flea market and savored every page. She was everything I wanted to be in a woman: brilliant, passionate, unwavering in the face of sexism and a dedicated public servant.
Today, I am following in her footsteps. I graduated from college and now work in federal child welfare policy.
My admiration for Hillary deepened when I began to learn how much of a positive impact she has made in this field, and the difference she made in the lives of foster children. When she became the Democratic nominee, I knew I had to help. That’s why my friend, Sixto Cancel, and I launched Foster Youth for Hillary.
Foster Youth for Hillary is a movement to engage the voices of foster youth in the election and to mobilize support for Hillary’s presidential campaign. We’ve come together to support her because she has always supported foster children.
As First Lady, she championed the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, a bill that that helped increased adoptions from foster care.
She was also a driving force behind the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999, which helps kids who age out of the foster care system, like me, maintain independence
And on top of that, she’s hosted countless events, town halls, and listening sessions with foster youth.
To be frank, too many people in Washington use foster youth as a dog and pony show to gain support for their own interests. But that’s not how Hillary operates. She understands that we the foster youth are experts in child welfare because we’ve lived through the system.
Foster Youth for Hillary was founded on the idea that, in this election, voting is the most important tool to improve the futures of foster children.
Our child welfare system will be radically improved with Hillary at the helm, and that’s why we’ll spend every waking hour until Election Day supporting her.
Foster youth are with Hillary, because she has always been with us.
Lexie Gruber is a former foster youth and a co-founder of Foster Youth for Hillary.