Two bills aiming to increase independence and opportunity for Oregon’s foster youth received final approval today in the Oregon Legislature and now head to Governor Kate Brown’s desk for her signature. Both bills passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, thanks in-part to the efforts of Senators Sara Gelser and Michael Dembrow, and Representatives Alissa Keny-Guyer, Duane Stark, Jodi Hack, Carla Piluso and more!
Members of Oregon Foster Youth Connection (OFYC) created House Bill 2889, which will allow the creation of savings accounts for Oregon foster youth. The accounts will provide an additional tool for foster youth to achieve financial independence by saving their own money for future educational opportunities and other vital living expenses.
OFYC members also created House Bill 2890, which will provide opportunities for youth in foster care to participate in at least one extracurricular activity. Extracurricular activities provide critical, formative experiences which help youth develop physically, intellectually, socially and emotionally.
“Like all of our legislative proposals, these ideas came directly from current and former foster youth,” says Lisa McMahon, OFYC Program Director. Both bills were featured in the 2015 Children’s Agenda and were also supported by NAYA Family Center, New Avenues for Youth, and Oregon CASA Network and others.
By Tonia Hunt
The answer is: a lot. The last few months at Children First have been a whirlwind.
In February, we launched United for Kids and unveiled the 2015 Children’s Agenda – which compiles the best thinking of 65 pro-child advocacy organizations and coalitions and makes clear to legislators what Oregon’s children need.
As the convener and coordinator of United for Kids, Children First is bringing together a diverse group of voters, child and family advocates, businesses, labor groups, funders, faith communities, and elected leaders to speak with a unified voice for kids. I urge you to join United for Kids today and add your name to the nearly 5,000 Oregonians who have already signed up to make kids a top public policy priority!
Since the start of the legislative session the Children First staff team has been in Salem every day to support the Children’s Agenda participants and help advance policy items that make kids’ lives better. We have been privileged to work with great advocacy peers to expand access to free school lunch for children from low-income families, health care for all children in Oregon, gun safety to protect children, affordable child care for working families, and adequate school funding – among other issues. Whether meeting with legislators, offering testimony and floor letters, providing policy and data research, or coordinating behind the scenes with advocacy partners, Children First has been working hard to speak for Oregon’s 860,000 children.
A lot of work remains to make Oregon the best place to be a kid. We can only make that change if you help us. Start today by joining United for Kids, reading our blogs, making a gift, and visiting us on social media. And stay tuned for what we have in store next!
By Amy Wang
February 8, 2015
The lead agency in the movement is Children First for Oregon…
Tonia Hunt, executive director of Children First for Oregon, said Wednesday that the United for Kids movement and the 2015 Children’s Agenda are a natural pairing. “We know that it takes the engagement of Oregonians … to make sure that policy makers enact policies that improve the well-being of kids,” Hunt said.
The new movement has two initial strategies, Hunt said: Providing information to legislators, via the 2015 Children’s Agenda, “about what are the next best moves to make in terms of policy change,” and engaging the state’s voters, business organizations, faith communities and civic clubs with the question of “whether or not they believe kids should be a top priority in public policy decisions.”
Read the full story here and read the full 2015 Children’s Agenda here.
Children First for Oregon is proud to partner with more than 60 advocacy organizations to create a first-ever, coordinated policy agenda for kids for Oregon. The 2015 Children’s Agenda compiles the best thinking about what it will take to make Oregon a great place to be a kid and specific policy recommendations from the community of advocates working on behalf of Oregon’s children and families. Focused on children’s education, economic stability and overall health, the Children’s Agenda captures the depth and breadth of challenges and real solutions that can make a difference for kids in our state. See the full Children’s Agenda here.
Children First for Oregon believes advocates for children are stronger together – a coordinated agenda with shared messaging creates momentum and power in the politically charged world of policy change. The Children’s Agenda is an important step forward for Oregon’s children and we deeply appreciate the contribution and engagement of our advocacy peers. Children First is honored to support our peers and their priorities for children with the Children First advocacy and outreach team.
In the last year Children First has dedicated its energy and resources to expanding its historic leadership role in child well-being measurements and children’s advocacy to include building a constituency for children and serving the advocacy community as a convener and coordinator of a larger pro-child movement. Our goal remains clear and simple: to make Oregon to be a great place to be a kid. Stay tuned for our next steps to engage Oregonians in building a united voice for kids!
To download the 2015 Children’s Agenda or join United for Kids, visit www.ORUnitedforKids.org.