When foster youth speak up, lives change
Our Oregon Foster Youth Connection (OFYC) program empowers foster youth to share their voice and to be heard in key decisions affecting all children and youth in foster care. With peer support, leadership skills, and civic engagement tools, these inspiring youth improve their own lives and the lives of thousands of Oregon kids in foster care.
OFYC is youth led, meaning current and former foster youth shape the OFYC program, including policy priorities, activities, and leadership. They develop and advocate for solutions, ensuring that all children and youth in the foster care system are cared for and ready to succeed. OFYC members stand together so foster youth know they are not alone.
Youth have the opportunity to grow as a community, and as leaders, while developing policies, programs, and practices that improve Oregon’s foster care system. OFYC members ensure that youth are heard in child welfare decision-making groups and educate the community about the unique experience of growing up in foster care. Members have secured wins in the Oregon legislature in each of the past five bienniums.
For more information and to get involved, contact OFYC’s Program Director Lisa McMahon.
“I really enjoy seeing a community of people coming together to make change for the foster care community. It is truly something I have never seen, and I am glad to be part of it.” — Oregon Foster Youth Connection member
Foster Children’s Sibling Bill of Rights: Developed at the Oregon Foster Youth Connection’s 2016 Policy Conference and signed into law in 2017, the Sibling Bill of Rights ensures that youth in care are supported in preserving and strengthening relationships with their siblings.
“When you are in the foster care system, siblings are all the connection that you have. They know what you are going through; they know everything. They want to help you. They want to stick by you.” — Raven, OFYC member
Extracurricular Activities: In 2015, OFYC members passed a bill ensuring that DHS and foster parents work together to support youth in joining at least one ongoing extracurricular activity, giving youth in care the opportunity to participate in activities with their peers, develop their talents, and build lifelong relationships.
“I knew that I needed something to help me get through my challenges or I’d shutdown. I put all I had into extracurricular activities and found that it helped immensely. I came to realize I love helping others, being a leader, and standing up for what I believe in. Because of my activities, I have a plan of what I intend to do after I graduate in May.” — Alexis, OFYC member
Oregon Foster Children’s Bill of Rights: Passed in 2013, the Bill of Rights establishes clear requirements for informing youth about their legal rights and establishes a hotline answered by the Foster Care Ombudsman, which is an independent resource to investigate complaints, concerns, or violation of rights for children in the custody of Oregon DHS Foster Care.
“As a foster child, all you want to know is that someone has your back. By educating foster children about their rights, and setting up a grievance procedure if their rights are violated, we make one solid push to give foster kids safety and protection. That’s the very minimum any parent wants for their kid.” — Patrick, OFYC member
Tuition Waiver: Passed in 2011, the Tuition Waiver waives tuition and fees at state universities and community colleges for youth who spent time in Oregon’s foster care system.
“I want the chance to succeed. I have the grades, now I know I’ll have the resources.” — Nicole, OFYC member