LICF: Our Inaugural Foster Youth Intern Program
From left to right: LICF President Kim Carver, FYI Intern Jarvis Spearman, First Lady Donna Edwards, Governor Edwards, FYI Intern Kayana Bradley, LICF Co-Founder Judge Madeleine Landrieu, Senator Ronnie Johns
From left to right: LICF Executive Director Laura Alexander, LICF Co-Founder Judge Madeleine Landrieu, DCFS Secretary Marketa Walters, FYI Intern Jarvis Spearman, FYI Intern Breayana Bradley, Senator Fred Mills, Senator Regina Barrow, FYI Intern Kayana Bradley, FYI Intern Taylor Fletcher, LICF President Kim Carver
From left to right: FYI Intern Jarvis Spearman, FYI Intern Breayana Bradley, Representative Cameron Henry, FYI Intern Kayana Bradley, FYI Intern Taylor Fletcher
BATON ROUGE, LA — The Louisiana Institute for Children in Families is pleased to announce the success of our inaugural Foster Youth Intern Program!
Modeled after the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute's Foster Youth Intern Program® , the internship is an effort to make a difference in the life of a child who spent time in the foster care system while simultaneously making a tremendous impact on the future of child welfare in Louisiana.
With the incredible help of Senator Ronnie Johns (R-Lake Charles), four outstanding former foster youth served as interns at the Louisiana State Capitol from May 15 to May 26. Our two weeks spent with policy makers started the process of removing barriers that prevent children from knowing the love and support of a "forever family."
Our interns — Breayana Bradley, Kayana Bradley, Taylor Fletcher and Jarvis Spearman — aged out of foster care at the age of 18, and they joined us with hopes of advocating for Louisiana’s children in the system. All of the interns are current students at Louisiana colleges, proudly representing Louisiana State University, University of New Orleans, Grambling University and Tulane University.
The interns began the two weeks by meeting with Department of Children & Family Services Secretary Marketa Walters, where they spoke candidly about their personal experiences in the system. We spent several more days with Secretary Walters, and she introduced the interns in Senate Finance during the DCFS budget testimony.
Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry (R-Metairie) enjoyed two lunches with our group, explaining how the legislative process works and giving the interns’ invaluable advice on how to communicate effectively with lawmakers.
Governor Edwards and First Lady Donna Edwards also spent time with our interns, with the Governor and First Lady encouraging the interns’ ambitious goals while discussing the future of Louisiana’s foster care system.
To wrap our internship, Senator Regina Barrow (D-Baton Rouge) scheduled a Select Senate Women & Children committee meeting to hear our interns’ proposed policy initiatives, which ranged from fighting homelessness amongst youth aging out to providing better training for foster parents. You can listen to our interns' testimony here!
The interns worked tirelessly to prepare for this testimony, and several members from both chambers congratulated them on their poise and accomplishments.
By providing an invaluable two week experience during the peak of the 2017 Louisiana legislative session, the interns were able to educate state lawmakers on the struggles of aging out of foster care.
The Louisiana Institute for Children in Families is proud to have sponsored this initiative, and we would like to thank our many Community Partners who have always supported us in our efforts.
From left to right: FYI Intern Jarvis Spearman, FYI Intern Taylor Fletcher, State Treasurer Ron Henson, FYI Breayana Bradley, FYI Intern Kayana Bradley, LICF President Kim Carver
Meet our 2017 Louisiana Foster Youth Interns!
After spending six years in the foster care system, Breayana Bradley found stability in her high school studies. Her great grades and extracurricular activities made her eligible for the highly competitive Posse Scholarship, which gives 10 New Orleans metro area students the opportunity to attend Tulane University on a full scholarship.
Breayana began Tulane University last year, where she majors in Biology and Forensic Anthropology. Her experience with the system presented challenges, but Breayana hopes to be an advocate for foster children facing similar hardships. Her testimony mirrored this notion, and she spoke honestly about the negative impacts of state budget restraints.
A rising senior at University of New Orleans majoring in Sociology Child Care and Development with a minor in Business, Kayana Bradley is dedicated to improve the outcomes for other foster youth.
After aging out of state’s care at 18, Kayana testified before HCR 168 Task Force on Youth Aging Out of Foster Care to ensure hundreds of kids would not lose their health insurance at 19. For her work with this task force, as well as her work with DCFS and the Chaffee Independent Living Skills Providers, Kayana was named as one of LICFs first Louisiana Angels in 2015.
On the final day of the internship, Kayana testified in favor of positively enacting the Quality Parenting Initiative and extending the foster care age to 21.
Taylor Fletcher is a 20-year-old student at Louisiana State University, and he joined the Foster Youth Intern Program after spending five years in state’s care.
A New Orleans native, Taylor graduated from John McDonogh High School, where he excelled at many sports. He entered the Tyler Bridge Program his freshman year of college and now majors in Agriculture Business with a minor in Textile Apparel Merchandise at LSU.
Taylor impressed the Select Senate Women & Children committee with his heartfelt appeal to better prepare foster youth aging out of the system. Taylor believes educating foster children on independent life skills will help those aging out rise above the normal statistics, and he was proud to bring awareness to this vulnerable population of kids.
Jarvis Spearman joined us as a senior at Grambling State University majoring in Social Work. He entered state’s care at 7 years old and aged out at 18.
He serves on several foster care task forces while also working at Independent Living in hopes of giving back. Jarvis is also the regional President of Louisiana Youth Leadership Advisory Council, as well as a Life Skills Specialist at the Methodist’s Children Home.
In his testimony before the Select Senate Women & Children Committee, Jarvis educated members on an issue close to his heart — homelessness amongst foster youth aging out of the system. He aspires to one day open a home where unwanted children may come to get a sense of belonging.