annie blackledge

Dear Friends and Allies,

What does “Pay it Forward” mean to you? For me, it means an entire career in service of the current generation of children and youth who will enter the foster care system or find themselves homeless. As many of you know, I experienced foster care and homelessness as a child and into my adolescence. I pay it forward for all the people who helped me when I was young. I pay it forward to keep the promise to the fourteen-year-old girl I was, who knew that no child should be treated this way.

Paying it forward is not a new concept. Shakespeare wrote “What’s past is prologue,” meaning that our past helps us set the stage for future greatness. We have been here before — think about the “Greatest Generation.” They lived through the dust bowl, the economic collapse of the Great Depression, and two world wars. Through those challenges, they created a new social compact. They believed the elderly deserved to be supported in their twilight years — that children need to be educated rather than sent off to work in factories. They built a social infrastructure that our nation still relies on today.

That moment presented an opportunity to create change. I believe we have a similar opportunity. This is our moment to rise together. So where do we start?

I propose we put a stake in the ground around our children and young people.

The last year has been hard — for some of us more than others — however, as we’ve seen before, even the most difficult circumstances can produce incredible growth. With the formation of the Department of Children, Youth and Families and the Office of Homeless Youth, we have a tremendous opportunity before us in Washington state. Together we can reinvent the child welfare system and end youth homelessness — in this time, starting right now.

At The Mockingbird Society, we’ve started a conversation about our shared civic life and how we choose to care for the youngest among us. This conversation has prepared us to move into collective action. It’s time for us to come together a develop a new social compact and it begins with caring for our most vulnerable populations. We can no longer be passive spectators in our democracy. We must strive to be builders of the future.

The Mockingbird Society has embraced the audacious idea that “we the people” built the child welfare system, therefore “we the people” can re-build it, but we can’t do it alone. Will you join us?


annie blackledge sig

Annie Blackledge
Executive Director

<< go to April 2017 Mockingbird Times


2020 Archives

We Welcome
Your Work

We welcome submissions of articles, poetry, artwork, and photography from our young readers who have experience in the foster care system and/ or homelessness. If you want to be, or have been, published in the Mockingbird Times visit, call us at (206) 407-2134 or email us at youthprograms@ Note: Incoming letters to the editor and correspondence to youth under 18 years should be addressed to the Mockingbird Times and will be opened first by adult editorial staff.