February 27, 2014 – This week, young people who are currently being served by the foster care system and those who were formerly served by that system, gathered to share their expertise with a group of elected and appointed officials, those who develop and run programs within state departments, and those who lead in their Oakland County communities. The testimony given was inspiring, as was the range of decision-makers who listened to the more than three hours of expert perspective. The testimony challenged all of us to do better for the young people for whom we as a state have taken responsibility and to keep doing better for them. Michigan’s Children is glad to take that challenge.
Many of the issues raised have direct public policy solutions:
- We can make sure that young people are provided some stability in their educational careers by using resources we already have available to keep them in the same school for long enough to build relationships and gather credits.
- We can make sure that there are 2nd, 3rd and 4th chances for young people to get through high school by rewarding programs that serve the most challenged kids well and serve them beyond the traditional four years of high school.
- We can make sure that there are well trained and sufficiently supported staff who are helping the young people, their birth families, foster families and surrogate families succeed.
- We can make sure that behavior born of disappointment, isolation and anger that result from insufficient resources and support for kids in the foster care system does not result in a direct path to the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
As communities, we can take advantage of their resilience, their tenacity and problem solving skills. And we can make sure that current and former foster care kids’ voices and voices of their peers are heard in places of policymaking. Their voices were definitely heard Monday night by dozens of decision-makers in attendance who chose to listen. Michigan’s Children and other partners will make sure that they now use what they’ve learned to act.
See the Oakland Press coverage of the event.
– Michele Corey