Foster youth meet with lawmakers to lobby and advocate

Local youth in foster care meet with Austin lawmakers to lobby for issues impacting foster care system

BCFS Health and Human Services’ youth travel to Youth In Action Capitol Day during Texas’ 84th Legislative Session

AUSTIN — Twenty youth in foster care from BCFS’ San Antonio, McAllen and Corpus Christi Transition Centers met with lawmakers to lobby for issues impacting Texas’ foster care system during the annual Youth In Action Capitol Day on March 27th. The youth led presentations regarding bills under discussion this legislative session, covering issues like the overuse of medications in foster youth, and the importance of higher education.

BCFS’ youth met with the offices of Texas State Senators Juan Hinojosa and Carlos Uresti, and State Representatives Ruth Jones McClendon, Diego Bernal and Justin Rodriguez to advocate for ten bills that would impact the state foster care system.

For weeks leading up to the event, BCFS worked with each youth to pore over the details of the ten relevant proposed bills. A series of morning presentations precluded the dignitary meetings in which the youth spoke on the issues they were most passionate about, including homelessness, mental health treatment, and foster parent certifications.

Kicharnae Earls was one of the youth who participated in the event. “I feel like my voice was heard,” says Earls. “I enjoyed that they listened to my concerns and took my opinions into consideration.”

“Youth in Action Capitol Day teaches our youth about the legislative process and policy-making,” said BCFS San Antonio Transition Center Program Director Stacy Lee. “It’s powerful to visit the Capitol where it all takes place, and learn first-hand how ideas become laws that eventually affect our daily lives.”

The BCFS San Antonio, McAllen and Corpus Christi Transition Centers serve youth in foster care, those who aged out of foster care, youth in the juvenile justice system, and those struggling with poverty, homelessness or an unstable home life. Youth rely on the centers for case management, life skills workshops, and help with education, employment and housing location. BCFS Health and Human Services operates seven youth transition centers across Texas.

Youth in Action Capitol Day, which draws about 300 youth and adults from all over Texas each session, is a program of  Texas Network of Youth Services. Youth from BCFS have participated in the event during every legislative session since 2005.

For more information about BCFS’ youth transition centers, visit www.DiscoverBCFS.net.

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BCFS is a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations with locations and programs throughout the United States as well as Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. The organization is a national leader in medical sheltering and emergency management and response, providing critical emergency support services to federal, state and local governments. BCFS also provides residential services and emergency shelters for children who are abused or neglected; assisted living services and vocational training for adults with intellectual disabilities; mental health services for children and families, foster care and adoption services; medical services; early education; transitional living services for youth who are at-risk and those in the juvenile justice system; residential camping and retreats for children and families; and international humanitarian aid for children living in impoverished conditions in developing countries.