Youth Advocacy Day 2014 was a pretty big deal. We secured a new location for our event in the Capitol, we made some changes happen, our presence was bigger and stronger than it had been in previous years, and 2015 is only going to get better. We have secured The United Churches of Olympia again for Youth Advocacy Day on February 27, 2015. That means we will be indoors and warm as we deliver on our promise to have our presence felt and to elevate the voice of thousands of foster and homeless youth around Washington state.
This year we are advocating to finalize our legacy issue, Extended Foster Care, to be fully implemented. That means we are asking for all youth to have the option to receive support until the age of 21, versus being out on their own at the age of 18 and forced to find their own way. We believe that if the state is going to take on the responsibility of being our parent and guardian, then it should support us as we transition into adulthood as any parent would. Our second priority is The Homeless Youth Act (HY Act). Our main goals for the HY Act includes:
Establishing a state-level authority to be responsible for advocating for and coordinating issues of youth homelessness; having the state of Washington take on the goal that no system (foster care, juvenile justice, etc.) will discharge youth and young adults into homelessness.
To make our presence felt on Youth Advocacy Day, we will be marching and chanting around the state capital, holding meetings with policymakers and hearing from some very important guests. Youth will have the opportunity to sit with policy makers from their region and let them know about the important issues going on in their community. We defy the misconceptions and expectations of those who aren’t aware of what it means to be a homeless or foster youth. We will show them that we are young professionals by the way we carry ourselves and that we do care about what happens in a system that affects us. We have something to say and will get that message across in a positive manner.
Youth Advocacy Day is the day we really put forth our best effort to speak on behalf of all of our priorities. It is also a time where youth can shine and show legislators that the issues are real and that they do matter. It’s more than an annual event. It’s bigger than that. It’s a time to let the thousands of voices that go unheard all year round have a chance to speak up and change the system for the next generation of foster youth that may follow.