Valuing Lived Experience and Adult Mentors
The Imprint is highlighting each of the policy recommendations made this summer by the participants of the Foster Youth Internship Program, a group of 12 former foster youth who have completed congressional internships.
The annual program is overseen by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that raises awareness about the needs of children without families. Each of the participants crafted a policy recommendation during their time in Washington, D.C.
Today we highlight the recommendation from Idelia Robinson-Confer, who is pursuing a master’s degree in policy research and analysis at the University of Pittsburgh.
Robinson-Confer’s proposal goes in two different directions: amplifying the voice of youth with foster care experience and seeding more permanent connections with adults for those aging out.
On the former point, she proposes that Congress require states to ensure that child welfare agencies “engage youth in decision-making regarding their own lives and planning for their future.” On the latter, she calls for funds to directly support mentoring programs tailored to youth aging out of foster care.
Several federal laws require the involvement of foster youth in their own case planning and decision-making, but Robinson-Confer writes that “these policies are not being implemented in a meaningful way.” The negative outcomes that are too frequently experienced by youth aging out, she says, are an indicator that we are not making enough efforts to forge strong connections with adults before that occurs.
In Their Own Words
“After eight years in foster care, I aged out and found the transition from foster care to adulthood difficult. As a result, I struggled in early adulthood with decision-making, self-advocacy, emotional regulation, and building and maintaining relationships.”