Mayor de Blasio and Public Advocate Letitia James give Foster Care youth a voice
By Michelle Deal Winfield
Council Member Daniel Dromm, Council Member Stephen Levin, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council Member Donovan Richards, Jr., Public Advocate Letitia James, Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo. Photo: Michelle Deal Winfield
On Wednesday, November 16, 2016 Mayor Bill de Blasio held a public hearing for twelve pieces of legislation. Seven of the bills, Intros. 118-A, 1190-A, 1191-A, 1192-A, 1197-A, and 1250-A, dealt with requests to amend present foster care local laws.
The hearing and signing was held at City Hall in the Blue Room with a standing room only audience. The Mayor welcomed everyone and thanked NYC Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito for forwarding the bills. The Speaker Mark-Viverito sent a statement which read, “…To create a package of legislation that speaks to their needs (foster care children), even the youngest among us will see their worlds change for the better.”
Council Member Stephen Levin sponsored a bill to develop a five-year plan to address the problems, and barriers youth faced due to permanency in foster care. The Administration for Children’s Services will now analyze and submit ways on how to fix existing problems.
Students in the foster care system testified before the Mayor saying, “We thank Council Member Levin for inviting us to the first ever “ Foster Youth Shadow Day.” Youth visited the Council Chambers and witnessed the members’ deliberations. Two students remarked, “I would like to become an elected Council Member.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate Letitia James, holding a baby from the audience, Council Member Donovan Richards, Jr.
Public Advocate Letitia James spoke on behalf of Intro. 1205-A. In her remarks, Hon. James said, “We want you to know, we are on your side.” James holding a baby from the audience seemed to be reassuring us of her commitment.
In closing, Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo applauded a foster care youth, age 16, who was attending Westchester County College. Cumbo continued, “Every youth, irrespective of their socioeconomic status or background, deserves an equal opportunity to succeed as scholars and professionals. With nearly 9,000 children and youth under the care of the Administration for Children’s Services, we must ensure that the proper resources are in place to support their continued growth and development within and beyond the foster care system.”
Mayor de Blasio signed the package of foster care bills. The sponsors and supporters were given engraved ball-point pens with Mayor de Blasio’s signature.
Members of the audience commented that they felt that the foster care bills would give the youth a voice in what happens in their own lives.