NPC Members meet with Federal ACF Leaders

NPC Members and ACF Leaders on Zoom screen shot

The National Foster Care Youth & Alumni Policy Council were thrilled to meet with key stakeholders from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) this September!

Commissioner Jones-Gaston, Associate Commissioner Schomburg and Dae’Shawn Nixon, Senior Advisor for Youth & Family Engagement had a conversation with us about our 20th priority “Decriminalize Being in Foster Care.” 

In this priority, Council members forward the following statements: 

Priority 1: Those charged with our safety must remember that we are children and teenagers.
Priority 2: Our caregivers need to understand our personal trauma and how that influences our behaviors. We aren’t bad children or teens. We lived through bad things.
Priority 3: We ask policymakers and Child Welfare leaders to disrupt the foster care-to-prison pipeline with intention and urgency. 

We opened our discussion with three sobering accounts of youth in care who perished due to the misdeeds of those charged with their well-being. This conversation was followed by a presentation of data, personal accounts from youth with lived experience  and recommendations for resolution.  

These recommendations included training on adultification bias, youth brain development, de-escalation strategies, and restorative justice practices being essential for all those caring for foster youth. Additionally the policy explained the importance of  case plans including youth-developed alternatives to law enforcement and comprehensive mental health supports, including youth-initiated alternatives to traditional therapy. These steps can be taken to limit the involvement of foster youth in the juvenile justice system and in turn disrupt the foster care to prison pipeline.

ACF is currently working in partnership with other federal agencies to find out where the gaps are in services & supports since both are dually involved youth. We will continue to inform and partner with ACF and other agency leaders in this work and beyond! 

We are so grateful for the connections made and the excitement for future collaborations. Thank you ACF!

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