In July, 35 current and former foster youth from across the state gathered in Salem for the bi-annual OFYC Policy Conference. Youth in attendance shared personal stories, participated in workshops and trainings, and took part in fun activities. They also worked together to identify pressing issues within the foster care system and develop concrete solutions. Topics discussed by youth included supporting foster youth ages 18-21, preventing houselessness for transition age foster youth, and ensuring foster youth are placed with caregivers that meet their needs. After identifying problems and concerns in each of these topic areas, youth created their own policy recommendations for improving foster care in Oregon. After the Policy Conference, youth presented their policy recommendations to a room full of lawmakers, child welfare officials, service providers, and community members.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the inspiring youth who took part in the experience, the supportive adults who volunteered at the Conference, and everyone who joined us at the Luncheon. We hope you are as inspired by our youth leaders as we are, and we thank you for helping current and former foster youth feel heard!

Many thanks to Nathaniel Schwab for the photos!