Vol. 20, No. 1 November 2015
Witnessing a Change in Foster Care
Reflections from Foster Care Alumni
On July 2, 2015, the Governor signed a new law called the Foster Care Family Act (SB 423). Governor McCrory asked that SaySo be represented on this day. SaySo supporters and foster care alumni Chaney Stokes, Roman Rys, and Marcella Middleton were present, as was Nancy Carter, SaySo's chief administrator.
After touring the Governor's mansion, Chaney, Roman, and Marcella were invited to stand with the Governor as he signed this bill which, among other things, will allow youth in foster care to participate in "normal" activities such as field trips, extracurricular activities, sleepovers with friends, and obtaining a driver's license. To top things off, the Governor gave each of them one of the pens he used to sign his name to the bill. What a souvenir!
Below are some of Chaney, Roman, and Marcella's thoughts about this momentous occasion.
SB 423 is affectionately known as the "normalcy act." SaySo members have actively participated in helping to establish guidelines for caregivers and DSS representatives to implement this new law. SaySo is proud to be part of this process from its conception. After almost 18 years, young adults in foster care are being heard and their suggestions and ideas are being implemented.
"As a former foster youth, I felt many emotions the day SB 423 was signed. Tears filled my eyes as Governor McCrory lifted his pen. This law is such a blessing to the young people who are currently in foster care. Although this change does not directly impact me, the fact that it will help those whom I've dedicated my life to advocating for brings me great joy."
"Being at the event . . . gave me an uplifting, victorious, almost overwhelming emotion. Now youth will be able to get their driver's license before turning 18. Foster parents will now receive liability insurance so that when foster youth placed with them have something severe happen to them (e.g., broken leg when playing football) they will have financial assistance. These are good changes.
"However, this is just one step. Some youth in the substitute care system will thrive because of this change. Yet others will still be falling through the cracks of the system. We as well as lobbyists, politicians, stakeholder groups, non-profit organizations, and others must keep listening to individuals who have experienced substitute care. We must continue to use their input to make practical changes in policy to benefit minorities in substitute care. Some are still not receiving the resources needed to be successful. We must make the effort needed to make policy change one step at a time."
Marcella says she remembers that many years ago her foster family saved so they could bring her and her sister to Disney World. That request was denied, but the memory of that missed opportunity has not been forgotten. Now, families will be able to take their foster children on vacation and be a real family together.
~ Family and Children's Resource Program, UNC-CH School of Social Work ~