Note from the editor: On February 27, 2015 The Mockingbird Society and our supporters from across Washington state gathered in Olympia for our annual Youth Advocacy Day. I want to share with all of you the speech I gave on that day. Thank you for your unwavering support for our children, youth, and families.
Welcome to Youth Advocacy Day 2015. I look out at this audience and see a beautiful group of advocates who are ready to go and create some positive change here in Olympia. I try and make every day my favorite day, but I must say that Youth Advocacy Day is truly one of my favorite days of the year!
in this honorable house
of worship: To the children,
youth and young adults
who know the drama,
trauma and darkness of
foster care, homelessness,
and incarceration —
your lives matter!
I want to start by practicing our “thankyou’s” because you will be doing a lot of that today. I want to begin by thanking our volunteers and allies for today. I also want us to thank the remarkable Mockingbird Society staff and board members who have worked so hard to make this a special day. I also want to thank the young people who are here today breaking all kinds of negative stereotypes. It is also very exciting to have our special guests Representative Reuven Carlyle and the First Lady of Washington state, Mrs. Trudi Inslee.
Youth Advocacy Day is a priority event for The Mockingbird Society as it fits squarely with our mission of “Improving Foster Care and Ending Youth Homelessness.” We are mission-driven and laser-focused. We want a statewide plan to prevent and end youth homelessness, we want a foster care system that protects children and youth, and we want a system that takes good care of the folks who take good care of kids. Can the foster parents in the room please stand up and let us thank you?
I think back to our first Youth Advocacy Day in the late 1990’s when we had maybe five youth, and all of them came in my car. Since then we have had over 25 pieces of legislation passed, we have increased the awareness and empathy of the general public, and we have taken Extended Foster Care from an idea to a robust program that is preventing youth homelessness.
Your voice matters! In fact, it matters in aligning the work of foster care reform with the broader civil rights movement. I want to also say: Black lives matter! Brown lives matter. Red, yellow, and white lives matter. Gay, lesbian and transgender lives matter. And I say it right here in this honorable house of worship: To the children, youth and young adults who know the drama, trauma and darkness of foster care, homelessness, and incarceration — your lives matter!
This is the community we want; this is the state we want, and this is the America we want. So today, bring your best self. We’ve come a long way from five to ten people in 1999 to over 300 today in 2015.
Review your talking points. Be polite and respectful. Be your best self!
Let’s do our work to improve your current and future life, and make life better for that fiveyear-old child who doesn’t even know she will end up in foster care. Thank you, and let’s go get ‘em!