Making Foster Care Human

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When a young person goes into foster care, a flood of paperwork ensues because everything has to be documented. There’s too much at stake. And it all goes into a case, handled by a caseworker.

A dozen young people visited City Hall on May 10 to send a message that behind every case file is a human being, a young person whose aspirations and goals in the broadest scope aren’t that different from most anyone else. They want to feel safe. They want to believe in their future, that they’ll have a fair shot at improving their lives. They want to be acknowledged as individuals, for who they are.

The second Fostering Youth Success Alliance Shadow Day proved an excellent opportunity to do just that. The young adults spent the better part of the day shadowing council members, experiencing meetings that affect city life, and watching first hand the business of government.

Once again, Council Member Stephen Levin, as chair of the General Welfare committee, took a lead role in making this a day to remember. We were honored to have Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito deliver a powerful message on City Hall’s steps, where she was joined by Council Members Vanessa Gibson, David Greenfield, Ben Kallos, Donovan Richards, and Mark Treyger.

The day took on added importance because City Council introduced a bill that will address inequities in the way the city determines homelessness. If it passes, youth aging out of foster care will be credited as homeless during their time in foster care so they qualify for the city’s rental voucher program. Housing is always a critical issue for young people aging out of foster care, so this would be a good step forward for New York City.