Lived Experience Leaders Testify at Congressional Hearing

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Ways & Means Hearing

In January, FosterClub Lived Experience (LEx) Leaders and child welfare experts spoke to Congressional Members and staff about supporting youth from foster care in transitioning to adulthood. 

The U.S. House of Representatives, Ways and Means Committee, Work & Welfare Subcommittee invited three LEx Leaders to testify at a Congressional Hearing called “Pathways to Independence: Supporting Youth Aging Out of Foster Care.” 

This Committee focuses on foster care and federal laws affecting its children, youth, and families. The hearing helped Congressional leaders understand how these laws support young people in foster care, especially those transitioning to adulthood. 

Congressional leaders understand the importance of lived experience voices in legislative solutions. We love that they invited several advocates with lived experience to testify! 


My North Star for action remains listening to these youths’ voices as they continue to challenge us to help connect them to their families while making them and their families stronger.”

— Ranking Member Davis

The LEx leaders, Jordan Otero (IN), Rebekka Behr (FL), and Gabe Foley (IL), shared their experiences and recommendations for supporting youth transitioning to adulthood. Another LEx leader, Kenny Jackson-Kiefer, joined his adoptive dad who also testified. 

“I am here today to help you understand how family connections, financial resources and peer support programs have helped me navigate the world in and beyond foster care," said Jordan. “I want you to have the understanding that our stories are more than just testimonies and sad news articles you see, but that we are people with dreams and ambitions… I urge you to meet with lived experience youth in your home state and hear their stories and see who they are.”

In her spoken testimony, Rebekka reflected, “My journey through foster care highlights the formidable challenges faced by youth aging out of the system, and I stand before you as a testament to resilience, determination, and the potential of young people who have experienced the foster care system… My powerful ask is for comprehensive, empathetic policies that empower foster youth, creating a pathway for success beyond the challenges of the foster care system. Let my journey not be an exception, but an inspiration for meaningful change.”

A HUGE thanks to the LEx Leaders who shared their experiences and recommendations!

We’re so grateful to the Work & Welfare Subcommittee for prioritizing lived experience and the bipartisan dedication to increasing federal support for youth from foster care transitioning to adulthood. Ranking Member Davis (D, IL-07) and Chairman LaHood (R, IL-16) recognized LEx Leaders’ vital guidance on improving foster care.

Ranking Member Davis shared, “My North Star for action remains listening to these youths’ voices as they continue to challenge us to help connect them to their families while making them and their families stronger.”

Chairman LaHood closed the hearing with, “You give us hope; you inspire us. We can’t do this work without you.”


“You give us hope; you inspire us. We can’t do this work without you.”

— Chairman LaHood, in closing remarks

Jordan was supported by Foster Success of Indiana and FosterClub. Rebekka was supported by Florida Youth Shine and National Foster Youth Institute. Gabe was supported by FosterClub. 

Work & Welfare Subcommittee Hearing on Pathways to Independence: Supporting Youth Aging Out of Foster Care

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