February 03, 2023

Friends of the Children leaders blanket Capitol Hill to highlight policies that support youth who experience significant adversity

Leaders from nearly 30 communities representing youth from more than 500 U.S. schools called on Members of Congress to prioritize youth impacted by foster care, mental health issues and other systemic barriers

WASHINGTON, D.C. (FEB. 3, 2023) – Friends of the Children leaders from nearly 30 communities representing youth from more than 500 schools across the U.S. blanketed Capitol Hill this week to call on Members of Congress to prioritize policies that support youth with great potential who are facing systemic inequities and barriers.

“Inequitable policies and systems have an unmistakable impact on the lives of the children and families we serve at Friends of the Children,” said Terri Sorensen, national CEO of Friends of the Children. “We are calling on Members of Congress to prioritize the needs of children and families in their districts and across the country who have innate potential and face significant adversity. Policies that support whole child well-being are needed for children who are disproportionately impacted by foster care, racism, education inequities, mental health conditions, homelessness, and other traumatic experiences.”

Executive directors and board chairs from chapters across the organization’s 29 locations met with more than 50 Members of Congress representing both sides of the aisle over two days. That included U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), and U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Lloyd Doggett (TX-35) and Dusty Johnson (SD-At Large) who also joined a reception at the AT&T Forum to celebrate the organization’s 30th anniversary.

Friends of the Children leaders asked Members of Congress to support the following policy priorities:

  • Investments in professional mentoring (PL 117-328) through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grants recognizing that professional mentors expand the continuum of youth mental health care and improve access to behavioral health supports for children and families.
  • Reintroduction of the Foster Youth Mentoring Act (formerly H.R. 3083) which provides support for mentoring programs that serve youth in the foster care system.
  • Reintroduction of the Resilience Investment, Support and Expansion (RISE) from Trauma Act (formerly S. 2086) which expands supports for children and families impacted by things like community violence and other traumatic experiences, such as the daily stress of abuse or neglect at home or a parent battling addiction.
  • Mentoring under the Public Services Health Act as an allowable use of funding in programs that serve youth at SAMHSA and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) under the Public Services Health Act.

The 30th anniversary celebration included video addresses from U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, M.D., M.B.A., U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and World Champion Gymnast and Youth Advocate Simone Biles, who is a Friends of the Children Ambassador. Biles unveiled her second Wheaties box in January in which she chose to also feature Friends of the Children.

Friends of the Children has become a recognized leader in establishing best practices for supporting youth impacted by foster care and has grown from five to 29 locations in just nine years. In the past six months alone, the organization has raised more than $77 million in funding, including $44 million from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, and $33 million from philanthropist couple Gary and Christine Rood. Learn more at friendsofthechildren.org.

Media kit with photos and videos from the event are accessible here (photo credit: Ting Shen).

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