Recently (and one might say belatedly) there has been a push in child welfare to include more input from those with lived foster care experience, especially around policymaking.
We are fortunate at Family & Youth Initiative that from the beginning we have benefited from the insight and advice of many people with lived foster care experience: volunteers, staff, and of course the youth we serve. I am deeply grateful to the many people who have been generous with their ideas and advice over the years.
One of the first people to share his experiences and insights with me, and who I hope knew how much he impacted what became DCFYI, was a dear friend whose recent and unexpected death is still hard to process.
Louis Henderson spent most of his childhood in foster care. We met years later, soon after he started the National Association of Former Foster Care Children of America (Louis always thought big) to directly serve youth in care. I am fairly certain NAFFCA was the first entity created by a person with "lived experience" to receive DC government contracts to provide placement for teens currently in care.
While most of what I know about his foster care experience was shared in private conversations, how that experience informed his professional work was clear.
Louis led with his heart, and created programming to give teens the kind of nurturing and experiences he missed out on when he was in foster care. His direct connections to youth didn't always make it easy for NAFFCA staff. But his empathy and understanding of youth perspective let those young people know they were heard and their perspectives and opinions valued. Twenty plus years later he was still in regular contact with many of them.
| Establishing Roots 2018
Louis was a people and ideas person - he thrived on relationships and on connecting others, especially around new ways to collaborate. He remained a friend to DCFYI, coming to our fundraiser when he could (always bringing at least one other person with him) and supporting our work.
While I will always miss Louis, I hope we at DCFYI will honor his legacy by continuing to listening to the youth we serve, respecting their life experiences and learning from them,
Park Afternoon & Campfire
Toast marshmallows and relax by a warm fire this Saturday, November 20th. Register here!
This year's party will be outside; we are hoping for a warm December day. Saturday, December 11.
For now, we are continuing with outdoor events. We are watching covid numbers and vaccination rates to determine when we can safely return to indoor events.
Events are on the DCFYI website calendar.
Holiday Gift Giving
We are so excited for this year's holiday party! Part of the fun is gifts for every DCFYI participant. We are collecting wish lists now to make this time of year extra magical.
Please let Mala know if you would like to contribute to the gift giving. Wish lists are capped at $150 and can be split between gift givers. Let Mala know if you would like to fulfill all or part of a youth's wish list and the name if you would like to buy for a specific youth.
An Establishing Roots Thank You!
Thank you to everyone who made DCFYI's annual Establishing Roots fundraiser a success! We are so grateful for the support of sponsors, honorary co-chairs, auction donors, and everyone who joined us!
Because of you, we met our goal and raised almost $76,000 - ensuring that more teens in foster care will have caring adults in their lives. We cannot thank you enough!!