Letting Kids Be Kids: A Legislative Victory in Florida

by: Christina Spudeas, Robin Rosenberg, and Andrea Cowart
North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC)
Adoptalk Summer 2013 Edition

“We just want to do the same things as our friends! We just want to be normal!” is the battle cry of youth in foster care–back by their caregivers–across the country. These youth want the chance to play sports, spend the night with friends, go on a class trip, or take a family vacation without the need for state approval or a court order. This year, Florida took a major step toward fixing this issue that plagues so many children in care. In April, the legislature unanimously enacted HB 215, a law intended to “let kids be kids,” as Governor Scott put it at the bill signing. A key factor in achieving this remarkable legislative victory was the role of current and former foster youth who were integral in generation support for the law.

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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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