Rep. Davis Statement at Annual Fostering the Future Kick Off
“U.S. Representative Danny K. Davis Partners with Children’s Rights to Kick off annual fostering the future media campaign”
I am delighted to join Children’s Rights and members of the press today to hear first-hand from experts and youth about how we can help foster youth succeed in their pursuit of a high school diploma and for many, a post-secondary education credential. It is my great pleasure to serve as the ranking member of the subcommittee on Human Resources for the House Ways and Means Committee with jurisdiction over child welfare issues. I am also a member of the Congressional Caucus for Foster Youth. These positions allow me raise important child welfare matters, and promote legislation designed to eradicate many of the systemic problems you will hear about on this call today.
Daisake Ikeda, a peacebuilder, Buddhist philosopher, educator and poet once said, “Genuine leadership is found in ceaseless efforts to foster young people, to pave the way forward for them”.
I believe this quote sums up the purpose of the fostering the future media campaign that we are kicking off today. The campaign will celebrate National Foster Care Month and highlight best practices across the country to maximize the educational well-being of foster youth. I firmly believe that the best solutions are grounded in the voices of the young people most affected by them.
As Sandy mentioned in his remarks, too many foster youth emancipate from the child welfare system with no high school diploma, and no option to pursue a post-secondary credential. Education is a fundamental human right for all citizens of the United States. Education is the key to success – the key to economic success, social success, and societal success. Currently, foster youth do not enjoy equal access to education, and we must change that.
For this reason, I steadfastly advocate to improve the educational well-being of foster youth. As we reauthorize the Higher Education Act this year, we have an opportunity to better prepare K-12 teachers to work with foster and other traumatized youth. We must improve our policies to support foster youth to complete college and pursue stable and meaningful careers. We need them to be the leaders of tomorrow.
To this end I have partnered with my colleague, Senator Dick Durbin to introduce the Trauma-Informed Care for Children and Families Act. When children experience traumatic events, like child abuse and neglect, stress alters the developing brain which can impact social-emotional well-being and force children into survival mode. A child’s natural response to this trauma may result in difficulty paying attention or regulating emotions that often are overlooked or misunderstood in a school setting. This can lead to school suspensions, poor student achievement, or escalation of conflicts. Our bill provides comprehensive system reform. A key provision of the bill would improve pre-service training programs to prepare educators to work with students who have experienced trauma. We include incentives for the development of curricula focused on building teachers’ trauma skills related to the identification, support, interventions and discipline.
In addition I will introduce three other bills to promote college going among foster youth. One bill would substantially increase scholarships for foster youth and dedicate funds to community colleges and universities to build institutions of excellence skilled at graduating foster youth. Another bill would reduce food insecurity for foster youth who are attending college full time. A final bill makes it easier foster youth to get a driver’s license and cover fees associated with securing a vehicle to attend school.