Oregon Foster Youth Connection is a program of Our Children Oregon built to empower current and former foster youth to share their voices and be heard in key decisions affecting children and foster youth. OFYC looks forward to improving the foster care system through advocacy, activism, and leadership while ensuring that all children and youth in the foster care system, from the youngest to those aging-out, are well cared for and empowered to succeed.
Throughout May, Our Children Oregon has shared resources and programs to highlight Foster Care Awareness Month, and we also wish to share the amazing work OFYC members have done and continue to do throughout the current legislative session. For the remainder of the month, we will share the thoughts and perspectives of current and former foster youth achievements, along with the importance of peer connections to build a sense of community empowerment.
Continuing the Foster Care Awareness Month blog series, Sam D of Oregon Foster Youth Connection (OFYC) shares her perspectives within foster care and as an active OFYC member in her own words below.
“I am an active member of Oregon Foster Youth Connection (OFYC) on the Advisory Committee. This work is meaningful to me because it gives me the chance to advocate for change in a broken foster care system and ensure that other youth have a better experience in the system. OFYC’s goals are to allow youth to share their stories while giving them the chance to advocate for the change that needs to occur in the current foster care system. We meet these goals through policy recommendations to Oregon’s Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Division, as well as our yearly advocacy convention where youth are able to voice where the system needs work, which leads to an introduction of a bill in the Oregon Legislature.
As an active member of OFYC I have been given the chance to see that I am not alone in what I went through with the foster care system, as well as I have made friends that know what I have been through, and we are able to relate on levels I otherwise cannot relate to my other peers. My involvement has allowed me to learn how to use my voice and advocate for what I believe in.
As I continue in OFYC I hope to continue sharing my story and have an impact on the current foster care system.
My foster care experience is unique in the eyes of the current system, but it has allowed me to show that there is a way to keep youth in a single home and have permanency while being in the system. It has shown the [Child Welfare] workers how important permanency is in a developing [a] youth’s life. In general, I don’t think everyone is aware how traumatic being in foster care is. Entering foster care is a traumatic experience in itself. You are yanked from the place you think is safe and thrown into an unknown environment without any warning.
My experience has made me into the human I am today. My goals are shaped around beating the odds of the foster care system and coming out on top.
Being a youth in foster care means that I have faced adversity but come out on the other end with more resiliency and fight than when I went into the system. To the foster youth (current or prior) who are thinking about joining OFYC, do it. Make the leap. It is the best thing I did, and I cannot believe that I waited so long to do so.”
We appreciate all of the work and words provided by Sam. To keep celebrating Foster Care Awareness Month, find more perspectives of OFYC members here.