Note: This is the first of a week long series of articles highlighting the Oregon Foster Youth Connection. Check back daily for more stories.
May is National Foster Care Month, a time to recognize and promote efforts to enhance the lives of children and youth in foster care. It’s a month set aside to renew our commitment to ensuring a bright future for the children and youth in foster care, and celebrate all those who make a meaningful difference in their lives.
Here in Oregon, more than 12,000 children and youth will spend time in the foster care system this year. That number is one of the highest percentages of youth in foster care in the entire country. The good news is that Oregon is also home to a unique advocacy group focused on improving the lives of kids in foster care.
Oregon Foster Youth Connection (OFYC), a program of Children First for Oregon, is a statewide, youth led, advocacy group of current and former foster youth between 14 – 25 years of age. OFYC trains and empowers youth to actively participate in the development of policies, programs, and practices that improve the lives of kids in foster care.
Youth members work to educate lawmakers, administrators, and the community about the unique issues facing foster youth. They share youth-created recommendations with the Oregon Department of Human Services, state and federal legislators and local citizens.
OFYC also creates legislation and advocates in the Oregon Legislature. Their two proposed bills during this 2015 session already passed the Oregon House of Representatives by a wide bipartisan margin and now await movement in the Oregon Senate.
On Tuesday, May 26, 2015, OFYC will be honored by the City Club of Portland as a Civic Hero at their annual award ceremony. The award recognizes organizations that empower youth to use their civic voice.
There’s little doubt that OFYC members are using their voices – and using them well – for Oregon’s foster children and youth.