Foster Kids Speak Out at 4th Annual Montana Leadership Summit
The youth in attendance at the May Montana Leadership Summit on the Protection of Children in Billings said they were often moved from place to place, foster home to group home, without much notice or even the chance to say goodbye to family members. "I would have loved to be asked where I wanted to be," said Mandy.
She turned 18 in a group home with no idea how to pay bills after every decision was made for her, she said. It would have helped to have a transition plan - which is now required for foster youth by state and federal law.
Jane Knipe of California Youth Connection encouraged attendees at the Summit to include youth in decisions and have them engaged at every level. "We can and must do better," she said.
The youth provided a dynamic start to the day-and-a-half long summit. Attendees included CASA directors and staff, 27 district court judges, public defenders, county attorneys, guardians ad litem and Child and Family Services supervisors. The Summit was planned by Sherri Rafter of the Court Assessment Program in collaboration with Child and Family Services, the Office of the Public Defender, and other organizations.
Speakers included Justice Max Baer and Sandy Moore from Pennsylvania on developing a state plan for improvement and Judge Steven Rubin from Pima County in Arizona. Timothy Travis and Pamela Bennett presented on Child Safety Guide Training.
From left, Janet Knipe, California Youth Connection, joins a panel of Montana youth who spoke about their experiences in foster care at the 4th Montana Leadership Summit on the Protection of Children recently. Panelists include Mandy, Kate Lynn, Ashley and Schylar Canfield-Barber.
Court Administrator Lois Menzies stands with Loretta Miller, Program Services Director for CASA of Montana, in front of the CASA display at the Summit. Menzies is retiring in June after more than four years with the Supreme Court. She has been a wonderful supporter of CASA.