our work

Public Policy & Advocacy

Public Policy & Advocacy

The Mockingbird Society’s Public Policy and Advocacy team partners with youth, young adults, and families who have been impacted by foster care and homelessness, providing tools and structure so they can successfully advocate for systems reform.

When young people who have experienced foster care and homelessness are their own best advocates, they put a face on these issues and build public will for change.

Together with youth advocates and informed by coalitions and partner organizations, The Mockingbird Society develops an annual policy agenda with goals and priorities to reform child welfare and systems addressing youth homelessness through changes in practice, policy, and budgets. While we primarily advocate at the state level, our youth advocates have led successful federal and local policy changes as well.


Mockingbird youth advocates sit on the Office of Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection Programs Advisory Committee and the Washington State Supreme Court Commission on Children in Foster Care. We also work directly with elected officials, their staff, and other policymakers to educate and develop champions for youth-led policy reform. Our philosophy of youth-adult partnership helps to ensure that young people have the opportunity and the support to present their ideas to decision-makers who can best move these issues forward, including at our annual Youth Leadership Summit and Youth Advocacy Day.

Coalition building and participation are also key parts of moving The Mockingbird Society’s policy agenda forward and maximizing the impact of our work. TMS convenes and chairs the Washington Coalition for Homeless Youth Advocacy (WACHYA), a coalition that unites advocates, providers, and funders in Washington state to advocate for, create, and implement effective policies to support homeless and at-risk youth in achieving safety and stability. In addition, TMS staff and youth advocates participate in many other coalitions related to child welfare and youth homelessness, consistently advocating to create space for authentic youth voice.



The work we do, and the people we help


Current Issues



Legislative Testimony





Mockingbird's Annual Advocacy Cycle

For years, Mockingbird has been developing leaders, organizing advocacy campaigns, and changing both policies and practices impacting those who have experienced foster care and homelessness. During this time, we have developed an annual advocacy cycle that drives the process through statewide youth engagement.

Identifying Challenges

Youth advocates brainstorm system gaps affecting youth and young adults experiencing foster care and/or homelessness. Activities include: (1) brainstorming ideas; (2) prioritizing issues; and (3) creating problem statements. 

Refining Proposals

Mockingbird youth advocates build support for policy recommendations with community leaders and policymakers. Activities include: (1) Power of Voting training; (2) Storytelling for Advocacy training; and (3) endorsement of policy agenda.

Defining Solutions

Regional chapters develop solutions to address system gaps. They announce preliminary policy recommendations at the annual Youth Leadership Summit. Activities include: (1) Voice Development training; (2) collaboration with community experts; and (3) the Youth Leadership Summit.

Advocate for Change

Mockingbird raises awareness about its legislative agenda and mobilizes youth advocates. Activities include: (1) Youth Advocacy Day; (2) Legislative Advocacy training; and (3) legislative testimony and policy meetings.