2015 has been an extremely busy year for The Mockingbird Society. We have grown our capacity and accomplished a lot. A lot of internal changes have been taking place for us, but through it all we have remained consistent in the quality of our work and laser focused on our mission to improve foster care and end youth homelessness. Three major events define what we have done this year.
Leadership Transition. Our Founder and former Executive Director, Jim Theofelis, stepped down from his position earlier this year. To celebrate all his achievements and contributions, The Mockingbird Society hosted a celebration at Town Hall. The turnout was amazing with current and former elected officials, community partners and organizations, as well as representatives from both the Seattle Mayor’s and Washington Governor’s office. Not to mention a lot of individuals from the community who greatly appreciate all the work that Jim has done in his years of advocacy.
Since Jim’s departure, The Mockingbird Society has been working hard to fill the void that has been left in his absence. We are still going strong. Mockingbird has maintained its capacity and work quality. In fact, in some ways we have even expanded the scope of our work. A great example is the fact that our Youth Program’s staff have had several opportunities to travel out of state to learn and participate in advocacy on a national level.
Legislative Accomplishments. This year, all the legislative priorities that we advocated for were passed. This included passing the final category of Extended Foster Care, which has been a legacy bill and 5+ years in the making. We were also able to get the Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection Act passed, which establishes a state wide governing office that will specifically focus on the issue of youth and young adults homelessness.
These were groundbreaking wins for us as an organization and speaks to the strength of our work and community partnerships. With the longest legislative session in Washington state history behind us and a very real budget crisis, we were still able to make our voices heard, sit down with legislators, and make a difference.
Expansion. Last but not least, we have had some major buzz with our Mockingbird Family Model (MFM). Prince George, Canada has implemented our model, as has the child welfare system in the United Kingdom, and Japan has inquired much about the model as well. MFM is a way to restructure foster care systems so they can have better outcomes for foster parents, foster youth, and social workers. It has also had some cost saving benefits when compared to more traditional foster care models.
Our 2015 accomplishments are not limited to those listed above, and the success of our organization cannot be measured only by what we have done in Olympia or Washington, DC, but instead by the impact we have made with those in the systems we advocate for. In 2016 we promise to come back strong, and be just as dedicated to improving foster care and ending youth homelessness.