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Strickland, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute Hold Roundtable on Supporting Foster Youth (VIDEO)

November 9, 2021

Olympia, WACongresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) and the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) held a virtual roundtable discussion with State Senator T’wina Nobles (28th LD) and Amara, a Pacific Northwest based nonprofit that serves children in foster care, their families, and adoptees. The roundtable discussion focused on the impacts of the opioid crisis on the U.S. foster care system, and explored how Strickland’s bipartisan FOSTER Act, along with state and local efforts, can better support foster youth. (Watch the roundtable at this link.)

“Too often, children are the silent victims of the opioid crisis. Opioid use among parents can push children into an overloaded foster care system without sufficient resources. With the FOSTER Act, we are calling on Congress to support foster children and caregivers affected by the opioid crisis,” said Congresswoman Strickland. “Supporting foster youth takes our entire community. I thank the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, Senator T’wina Nobles, and Amara for their advocacy and partnership in making sure foster youth and families have the resources they deserve.” 

Strickland, a member of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth and the Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery Caucus,  recently introducedH.R. 5469, the Furthering Opioid Services, Training, and Education Resources (FOSTER) Act. This bipartisan legislation would provide support, training, and resources to foster children and caregivers affected by the opioid crisis. It would also amend the 21st Century Cures Act to provide grants to states and localities providing child protective services to train staff and caregivers about the impact of opioid addiction on children under their care. 

“We know children who experience foster care face higher risks of poverty, homelessness, incarceration, early parenthood and substance use disorders after exiting the foster care system. As someone who went through this system, I know how important it is to receive intervention and support. It is our paramount duty as public servants to do the work for students who rely on us to set them up to succeed in school and in life. We must keep exploring strategies for intervention so these youth can also experience success. They deserve the absolute best we can do,” said State Senator T’wina Nobles, 28th Legislative District.

“The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) is appreciative to Representative Strickland and State Senator Nobles for hosting a roundtable event focused on the need of supports for children and families that have been impacted by the opioid crisis. We must provide resources at every level to support children and parents affected by the epidemic. CCAI would like to thank Representative Strickland and Senator Nobles for combining efforts at the state and federal level to focus on this important issue,” said Kate McLean, Executive Director, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

“Amara sees this key legislative effort as an important step in recruiting, training, and supporting caregivers to understand the substance use recovery journey. Our goal is for parents and caregivers to create relationships focused on child wellbeing during and after placement in foster care. We thank Representative Strickland and Senator Nobles for their work,” said Nicole Mazen, LMFT, Chief Program and Policy Officer, Amara.   

The opioid epidemic has affected countless families and communities across the United States. 1.6 million people had an opioid use disorder in 2019, and the situation worsened in 2020 with the United States experiencing its highest number of reported overdose deaths. In Washington State alone, 58,000 kids were affected by the opioid epidemic in 2017, including 7,500 removed from home for foster or kinship care. Children are entering foster care at higher rates alongside the rise in the opioid crisis, with the rate of child removals primarily attributed to parental substance use doubling from 18.5% in 2000 to 36% in 2018. Congress must provide dedicated resources to support children in foster care affected by the opioid crisis and to support parents with substance use disorders working to maintain custody of their children.

Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland serves as Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and is the only African-American woman who serves on the House Armed Services Committee. She is one of the first Korean-American women elected to Congress and the first African-American to represent the Pacific Northwest at the federal level.