Written by Hanna D., 2019 OFYC Legislative Action Team 

The 2019 legislative session, in all honesty, did not go as planned. Sadly, our bill was not passed as we had hoped, but that doesn’t mean fun experiences and other successes didn’t happen. In January of this year, OFYC had its biennial advocacy conference in Salem, which was my first interaction ever with OFYC. At the conference, the youth had chosen the Independent Living program (ILP) as the one 2018 Policy Recommendation that they wanted to take forward as legislation.

L to R: Hanna, (Intern) Crystal, and Lisa McMahon

 ILP plays a big factor for foster youth, as those foster youth know who are able to be involved. Getting this bill passed would have helped a big portion of foster youth in Oregon. The fact is, there are lots of foster youth who are not able to access ILP due to lack of resources, lack of ILP workers, and lack of funding. ILP is a key factor for exiting foster care successfully and foster youth who have had the amazing option to access ILP and successfully leave foster care can tell you how much it has helped them.

L to R: OFYC Members Whitney, Macy and Maddy

In the 2019 legislative session there were many bills that didn’t get passed, but also a lot that did, which will help make a big difference going forward for current and former foster youth. One of those bills is HB 2571, which helps with tuition for part time students attending a state school. 

Another bill that was passed was SB 278, which includes the Rentwell class that is now offered to foster youth to help ensure equal opportunity for renting for foster youth. This will help current and former foster youth in becoming independent and entering into being an adult.

In conclusion, our bill did not pass in the long 2019 legislative session, but our OFYC legislative team is not giving up, and will be fighting for this bill in the upcoming short 2020 legislative session. We hope to get ILP fully funded as originally planned to help out the ILP programs so they can ensure a successful exit from foster care for more foster youth.