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Letter from the Executive Director

Letter from the Executive Director Annie Blackledge
Executive Director

Dear Friends and Allies,

I find myself looking forward to 2017 with great excitement.

“Borrowing from the words
of Dr. Martin Luther King,
Jr., “The arc of the moral
universe is long, but it bends
towards justice.”

Yes, 2016 was a tough year. We saw the number of youth who find themselves living on the streets or surfing from couch-to-couch rise to record levels. Children deemed victims of abuse and neglect found themselves spending their days in an office and nights in motel rooms instead of in loving foster homes. This year we had hoped for major child welfare reform at the federal level with passage of the bipartisan Families First Act, but it failed to pass in the Senate. At times like these, it may feel as though progress is just beyond our grasp.

So why then am I looking forward to 2017? It’s simple: the young people I have the privilege to work with every day are looking forward to a new year. These young people don’t take their civic responsibilities lightly and they don’t give up. The proof is in their 2017 Advocacy Agenda. They continue to press for legacy issues including legal representation for children and youth in foster care; the elimination of the use of valid court orders to detain youth for status offenses; and family based foster care for older youth instead of group homes. They are advancing a few new items as well, including support for foster youth to access driver licenses and continued funding to the Washington state Homeless Student Stability Act.

Borrowing from the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Going forward, Mockingbird and our youth intend to play a significant role in policy implementation. We will take a longer view of the legislation we help to pass. We will engage youth and families to ensure that all of our policy wins come with a commitment to make sure they work effectively.

Inspired for 2017 yet? Come stand with us at Youth Advocacy Day on February 10th in Olympia and help us bend the arc.

Sincerely,

Annie Blackledge

Annie Blackledge
Executive Director