Rhode Islander Joins Langevin at Capitol to Recognize Foster Care Month
Speaking on the House floor in recognition of National Foster Care Month, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) highlighted the challenges facing youth in state care and praised a young Rhode Islander who joined him in Washington today for the remarkable work she is doing to improve the lives of foster youth after growing up in the system.
Langevin’s guest in the US Capitol, Dee Saint-Franc, spent a portion of the day with him as part of Foster Youth Shadow Day, organized by the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth. As a member of the Caucus, Langevin gave Saint-Franc insight into his routine and spoke with her about her aspirations and interest in foster care policy.
“It’s our goal to encourage them to nurture their innate talents, develop their leadership qualities and even explore potential careers here in Washington,” said Langevin in his remarks in the House Chamber. “I am also pleased to be paired with Dee Saint-Franc – a young woman who shows us all what determination and perseverance truly look like. Coming from a family that took in foster children, one of my priorities in Congress has been to ensure that this population has every opportunity to access and achieve success. Drawing on her personal experiences and leadership abilities, Dee has emerged as a strong advocate on this issue.”
After outlining Dee’s accomplishments, including as Board Co-Chair of The Voice and as Rhode Island's Delegate to the New England Youth Coalition, Langevin urged his colleagues to address inadequacies in the foster care system. Building on legislation he authored that was signed into law last year to addresses the disproportionate impact of identity theft on foster youth, he advocated additional proposals in his Foster Youth Financial Security Act to help foster youth apply for the state benefits and financial aid they need when they age out of the system.
Langevin also joined other members of the Caucus today in announcing the introduction of legislation, the A Plus Act, which would remove legal obstacles that hinder child welfare agencies in their efforts to meet foster children's educational needs. Current law creates confusion for education agencies regarding who is entitled to education records, making it difficult to ensure that children are immediately and appropriately enrolled in school and receive the supports and interventions they need to succeed.
Congressman Jim Langevin
Floor Statement for Foster Youth Shadow Day
May 31, 2012
Mr. Speaker, I am proud today to participate in the Foster Youth Shadow Day program in honor of National Foster Care Month. Many of my colleagues today have been paired with a foster youth to give them a first-hand glimpse of life in and around the Capitol. It’s our goal to encourage them to nurture their innate talents, develop their leadership qualities and even explore potential careers here in Washington. I’d like to thank all the co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, of which I am proud member, for planning this important event today.
I am also pleased to be paired with Dee Saint-Franc – a young woman who shows us all what determination and perseverance truly look like. Coming from a family that took in foster children, one of my priorities in Congress has been to ensure that this population has every opportunity to access and achieve success. Drawing on her personal experiences and leadership abilities, Dee has emerged as a strong advocate on this issue and I’ve had the privilege of working with Dee on issues affecting youth in the foster care system, and I have deep respect for her commitment, courage and her capabilities.
Among her many accomplishments, she has demonstrated tremendous passion and skill through her role as Board Co-Chair of The Voice and as Rhode Island's Delegate to the New England Youth Coalition. She has attained an Associate’s Degree in Business Management from Johnson & Wales University, and works for the Rhode Island Foster Parents Association.
Dee came under the care of the Department of Children, Youth and Families at the age of seven years old. She lived in group homes and with foster families, and unfortunately at some point along the way, became herself a victim of identity theft. This issue of identity theft had come to my attention a few years ago, and Dee’s personal story, as well as the stories of numerous other foster youth brave to step forward, was crucial in passing legislation to deal with this problem.
I’m pleased to report that last year, President Obama signed into law the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act, which contained a provision I authored to address identity theft in the foster care system. The measure requires states to provide foster youth ages 16 and older with a free copy of any consumer credit report pertaining to them while under state care and to fix any problems if they are found so that when the child leaves state care, they do so with their identity and their credit intact. While this law certainly would have protected Dee and others like her, she has nevertheless persevered and has done remarkable work with her peers in Rhode Island.
Moving forward, Congress needs to do its part to further support Dee’s efforts to level the playing field for foster youth. I’m proud to support bipartisan legislation being introduced by Caucus members today to remove obstacles to ensuring that foster youth get the education that they deserve. We can all take simple steps to help them to apply for state benefits and financial aid they need when they age out of the system and I’ve introduced legislation for that very purpose.
Now, at the age of 22, I am pleased to report that Dee is attending Rhode Island College – my alma mater – to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. I’m also proud that Dee is working to give something back to her community and wants to focus her academic career in an area for which she is uniquely qualified. She is a role model for her daughter and for all of us here today and, perhaps, Mr. Speaker, one day she will be down speaking on the House Floor herself in the not-to-distant future.
With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time and thank everyone for their support of foster awareness month.