Magazine article Children's Voice

Alabama Youth in Care Land Spots in the Statehouse

Magazine article Children's Voice

Alabama Youth in Care Land Spots in the Statehouse

Article excerpt

The Alabama Foster and Adoptive Parent Association (AFAPA) came up with a unique idea for bringing National Foster Care Month to the attention of local legislators last May-let foster youth work among them on the statehouse floor.

With the blessing of Alabama Speaker of the House Seth Hammett, AFAPA partnered with Alabama's Department of Human Resources (DHR) to send 18 youth, ages 14-19, from local group homes to work for three days in the Alabama Legislative Page Program. DHR provided social workers to accompany the children to Montgomery, and paid for their lodging and necessary business attire.

"I wanted to bring awareness to our foster children," says Linda Williams, Past President and current Legislative Chair of AFAPA, who came up with the idea. "In government and anywhere else, they see numbers and dollars; they never see the faces of our kids."

For three days during the first week of May, the youth became temporary employees of the legislature, assisting members of the House and Senate by performing errands on the floor of the House and during committee meetings, including obtaining copies of bills, resolutions, amendments, substitutes, and other official documents, and delivering messages to and from members. At the end of the week, the legislators collected tips for the youth, garnering $142 for each teen.

"They were just tickled to be there," Williams said of the youth. "They networked with a lot of the legislators that we would have never got to, ever. …

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