NATIONAL FOSTER CARE MONTH; Congressional Record Vol. 166, No. 93
(Senate - May 18, 2020)

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[Pages S2479-S2480]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                       NATIONAL FOSTER CARE MONTH

  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, each year, I look forward to National 
Foster Care Month as an opportunity to honor the more than 440,000 
children and youth in foster care nationwide. It is also an opportunity 
to honor the foster and kinship families and child welfare workers who 
support them.
  This year, in particular, the importance of supporting the children, 
youth, families and skilled workers in the foster care system has been 
underscored by the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is 
essential that Congress not only honor those who give and receive care 
as part of this system, but also those who take meaningful action to 
protect families, children, youth, and workers from the spread of the 
virus.
  In my home State of Oregon, more than 11,000 children and youth enter 
foster care in a given year, and about 7,900 children and youth are 
living in out-of-home placements on any given day. Oregon provides 
transition services to about 1,350 young adults, but many continue to 
struggle to find work, go to college, or complete technical training. 
The COVID-19 virus has hit these older youth particularly hard.
  As we consider actions to help the nation weather this pandemic, I 
would like to recognize a nonprofit organization in my State that 
represents a critical part of the response to COVID-19 for children and 
youth in the foster care system and those who have aged out of the 
system without finding a home to call their own. FosterClub is based in 
a beautiful town on the Oregon coast, Seaside. FosterClub is marking 
its 20th anniversary working to improve the lives of children and youth 
in foster care by connecting them to resources, teaching them how to 
become self advocates, and helping elevate their lived experiences and 
voices to members of Congress. By doing so, they are able to inform 
positive changes in our federal foster care system.
  And that is what this month is about: honoring the strength of those 
currently in and those who have exited the foster care system. It is 
about listening to their experiences and their needs.
  Over the years, I have been proud to work with my colleagues on a 
bipartisan basis to craft and get across the finish line legislation to 
strengthen and improve the foster care policies in Oregon and around 
the country. Not too long ago, then-Chairman Orrin Hatch and I were 
able to come together and pass into law the landmark Family First 
Prevention Services Act, commonly known as Family First.
  Family First was Children Defense Fund Founder Marion Wright 
Edelman's vision for a better Federal

[[Page S2480]]

foster care system focused on helping families stay together. This 
bipartisan legislation transformed the child welfare system to provide 
parents the help they need to prevent the trauma that occurs when 
children and youth are removed unnecessarily from their homes and 
placed in foster care. I remain committed to responding to the needs of 
children and youth in foster care and am dedicated to pursuing 
bipartisan ways to address the challenges faced by children, youth, 
families, and workers in the foster care system and especially now 
during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  I call on my colleagues, especially those across the aisle, to 
remember our Nation's foster care recipients and acknowledge the strain 
our Nation's most vulnerable are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
As we work towards future ways to address the COVID-19 pandemic, we 
must act swiftly to provide support for the children, youth, families, 
and workforce involved in the foster care system and especially the 
young adults who have aged out of the system without finding a forever 
home.
  I encourage my colleagues to listen carefully to the voices of 
children and youth impacted by the foster care system, act quickly to 
support these young people through this pandemic and help them 
transition to adulthood successfully. They deserve nothing less from 
their representatives in Congress.

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