Better foster care requires more knowledge | Letters to the editor

The Florida House  during the 2022 legislative session in Tallahassee. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
The Florida House during the 2022 legislative session in Tallahassee. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)


The Florida Legislature has passed several laws to benefit children in foster care, but until now, our state did not have educational standards in place to ensure that children know of their existence. Caregivers also often don’t know how to educate kids about the laws that impact their future.

The child welfare system can be complex and confusing. Children may think they can’t play sports, go to college or hold a job while in foster care. Data estimate that only 35% of Florida foster youth received transition services they were eligible for between ages 14 and 21. That’s 12% less than the estimate nationally, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

So we applaud lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis for passing and signing Senate Bill 272, the Nancy C. Detert Champion for Children Act. The law creates a clear process to educate youth in foster care in a developmentally appropriate, consistent way about important laws to help them succeed. It is the result of five years of relentless advocacy by Florida Youth SHINE (FYS), a statewide group run by and for youth who are or were in the child welfare system. Young people in the system will now be better informed about their rights and better equipped to achieve financial stability and independence.

Geori Seldine, Boynton Beach

The writer is executive director of Florida’s Children First (FCF), which advances the rights of at-risk children and youth in foster care.

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Alexia Nechayev

FYS Events & Meeting Chair
(Palm Beach)

Hello, My name is Alexia Nechayev. I am 25 years old and I am an alumna of Florida International University where I received my B.A. in Psychology. My future career goal is to be a Lawyer. I was in care for about one year from age 17 to 18. Prior to entering care, I only knew about the negative stigma regarding foster care and while in care that narrative was unfortunately my experience.

In school I felt like I was on display because my status in care was broadcast to other students and in my placement behavior was leveraged for “privileges” that should be a natural right of all children. Because I did not know my rights I did not know that what I was experiencing was wrong. Today this is exactly why I advocate, because I don’t want this to be the same for other youth who are experiencing foster care.

This is my second year on the FYS Statewide Board and I’m happy to be the Events and Meetings Chair this year because my main goal through advocacy is to reach as many people as possible. My favorite thing as a board member is to see how comfortable members become while working together. The community needs to know that youth in foster care are real people, going through some of the hardest moments of their life and youth need to know that their voice is powerful. I believe that we have to speak up and bring these issues to people’s attention so that they do not forget us. Advocacy, education and consistency is the only way.

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