In October, Shannon Saxby and three members of the Youth Leadership Advisory Team (YLAT), representing current and former youth from Maine's foster care system, attended the national foster youth conference, Leaders for Change, in Washington DC. YLAT was one of 23 foster youth organizations represented nationally at the conference. YLAT showcased its work with Maine's Child Welfare System to improve outcomes for older youth in foster care and heard from other States about their successes, barriers, and next steps regarding policy and practice changes. YLAT members also spent time preparing for a Legislative visit with Congressman Bruce Poliquin's staff and participated in a rally on the steps of the Supreme Court that highlighted national foster youth priority issues: foster parent training, living independently, and sibling connections.
Upon the conclusion of the rally, YLAT members met with Congressman Poliquin's Legislative Aide and presented their personal narratives. They highlighted the proposed Medicaid Waiver and the negative impacts it would have on Alumni of Maine's foster care system. The youth used their personal experiences of separations from their siblings and the lack of adequate foster parent training to request that Congressman Poliquin become more aware of the needs of foster youth and help ensure that federal laws and regulations are adequately implemented in Maine.