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The Mockingbird Society

Winter 2013 Newsletter

Dear Friends, When I started The Mockingbird Society twelve years ago, I had two goals. The first was to provide young people with the opportunity to shine, and the second was to fundamentally improve the way in which we took care of kids who could no longer live in their family homes — no matter the reason. With your support and commitment, I’m pleased to report that we are making significant progress. Our youth programs are on target for record participation. We anticipate serving nearly 450 youth throughout our six Mockingbird Youth Network Chapters statewide. These young leaders help humanize the experience of growing up in foster care, and they advocate on behalf of more than 10,000 kids who benefit from their extraordinary leadership and commitment to improving foster care. Similarly, we launched a pilot this year to engage youth facing various manifestations of youth homelessness. More than 75 young Jim Theofelis (right) with youth speakers at the 2013 Luncheon. people have joined our Homeless Youth Initiative, and these leaders have quickly become an invaluable resource as King County embarks on an ambitious plan to end youth homelessness by 2020. Replication of the Mockingbird Family Model is also under way. Thanks to the leadership of Children’s Administration, as well as our champions in the state Legislature, our efforts to help the state create five to ten new constellations are moving forward with great anticipation. In October and December, we hosted our first two trainings for Children’s Administration social workers, where they learned about how the Mockingbird Family Model works, and how it can significantly improve the way in which we support the caregivers and young people who find themselves in out-of-home care, through no fault of their own. Indeed, these are very exciting times. Thank you so much for making it possible for The Mockingbird Society to be laser-focused on advocating for the world-class systems of care we know are possible. With tremendous gratitude,

Jim Theofelis Executive Director and Founder

The Mockingbird Society’s 2013 Board of Directors Officers Jana Heyd, President Society of Counsel Hickory M. Gateless, Vice President Pacifica Law Group

Kim A. Justice, Secretary Washington State Budget & Policy Center Erin Welch, Treasurer Jacobson Jarvis, LLC

Members Stephanie M. Allen iWorkWise Yossi Banai Microsoft Corporation Jenna Boitano Community Volunteer Elise B. Chayet Harborview Medical Center

Jennifer M. Krigbaum 2020 Development Company, LLC Linda Lillevik Carey and Lillevik, PLLC Lisa Matchette Community Volunteer Amy Poley Healthcare Realty

Shanon Doolittle Doogooder Consulting

Carol Wood United Way of King County

Christopher Duff, CPA Microsoft Corporation

Robert D. Wyman Jr. University of Washington School of Law

Kimberly Eiring, CPA Mutual Materials J. Camille Fisher Perkins Coie, LLP

Jim Theofelis Executive Director (non-voting) The Mockingbird Society

Kenneth J. Kirsch The Boeing Company (Retired)

invest in children, y o u t h & fa m i l i e s t o d ay ! The Mockingbird Society relies on forward-thinking supporters like you! Your year-end gift will help our organization remain a respected and independent voice for reform. We advocate for policies, programs, and practices that benefit more than 10,000 children, youth, and families impacted by foster care and youth homelessness. Please support our year-round advocacy efforts! Make a contribution in the enclosed envelope or donate online at

Finishing the Job: Extended Foster Care for Those Who Need it Most education or receive the support they need to start a career, all with the peace of mind granted by having a safe and stable place to sleep at night. Despite our progress, there are still youth with the highest need who cannot access this support. Max Ream, a Seattle area youth Chapter member, is a perfect example. Max’s physical disability prevented him from pursuing his education or gaining employment after leaving care. In his testimony before legislators last year, Max provided a window into the realities he faces, “Being disabled makes life more complicated. I often go at a slower pace which can create barriers in the world. Extended Foster Care would have helped me and given me the support necessary to be successful in life and to take the time that I needed to reach my goals.” Max Ream (with megaphone) advocating in Olympia at Youth Advocacy Day.

In September, the state of Washington released a report revealing the fact that approximately one-third of foster care youth experienced homelessness or housing instability within their first year of aging out.1 This report, based on 2010 and 2011 data, illustrates why Extended Foster Care is so crucial: we cannot and should not exit youth from foster care into homelessness.

The current Extended Foster Care program covers three of five populations. In 2014, The Mockingbird Society will redouble its efforts in order to ensure that Washington state finishes the job, and that all youth can have the opportunity to maintain safe housing while they pursue opportunities to transition successfully to adulthood.

Mockingbird has been the leader in advocating for programs like Extended Foster Care for many years. The first pilot program was established in 2006. In subsequent years, Washington built a program now known as Extended Foster Care. Over the last three years, Mockingbird has also led advocacy efforts for adding “populations” identified by the federal government. Now, instead of receiving their belongings and a bus ticket on their 18th birthday, many foster youth can pursue an

Advocacy in Action: 2006 Foster Youth Achievement Act First pilot effort for post-18 housing. Serving 50 youth per year.

Did you know? A study of California’s foster care system projects $2.40 in benefit for every dollar invested in Extended Foster Care 2.

1 Shah, et al., “The Housing Status and Well-Being of Youth Aging Out of Foster Care in Washington State.” Department of Social and Health Services, Sept. 2013 2 Courtney, M. E., Dworsky, A., & Peters, C. M. (2009). California’s Fostering Connections to Success Act and the Costs and Benefits of Extending Foster Care to 21. Seattle, WA: Partners for Our Children.


2008 Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (Federal Legislation) Washington Congressman Jim McDermott champions Federal legislation after seeing effective programs in Washington state.

2009 Foster Youth Achievement Act Extension of 2006 program. State collects data to show positive economic impact.

2011 Extended Fo

Adds first population pursuing their high sch or GED.

Homeless Youth Initiative: Educating Our Community About Youth Homelessness In 2013, The Mockingbird Society launched a pilot program called the Homeless Youth Initiative (HYI) in order to engage youth impacted by homelessness in advocacy. We spoke with one of the program’s bright young leaders, Dahkota Beckham, to hear more about the program and the impact it has made. How old were you when you became homeless? 17, I’m 19 now.

What’s the biggest misconception many people have about homeless youth? Youth don’t become homeless by choice. I don’t know one person who wouldn’t rather have a safe home.

For how long were you homeless? I was homeless for almost two years. I mostly slept in my car. Shelters occasionally.

If you could change one thing to help homeless youth, what would it be?

What excites you about the HYI program? Knowing my voice is powerful and that I’m able to help lead the movement to end youth homelessness.

I’d formalize a program where schools connect homeless youth with service providers and support to get them into safe housing.

How would you describe the HYI to a peer? I’d tell them about King County’s plan to end youth homelessness and how they can help shape decisions that directly affect their lives. What are your favorite HYI activities? I like attending meetings with other youth and making meaningful connections with my peers. We can all relate!

Dahkota Beckham

What’s the biggest crowd you’ve spoken to on behalf of HYI? I spoke in front of about 4,000 people — some were even standing because all the chairs were filled. Do you enjoy public speaking? I love helping to educate people who might not know much about youth homelessness. How has the HYI program impacted you? I have more confidence now. I can effectively share my story and the struggles I went through.

oster Care

n: youth hool diploma

y e s t e r d ay

2012 Extended Foster Care

Adds second population: youth pursuing college or vocational education.

What do you say to other youth to get them involved in advocacy? Your expertise is important and your ideas can really help make a difference for other youth. What do you say to adults who want to help? Get educated on homeless youth issues. Learn about what’s happening in your communities.

To read more about... ...King County’s Comprehensive Plan to End Youth Homelessness, go to and search for “homeless youth and young adults.”

t o d ay

2013 Extended Foster Care

Adds third population: youth participating in programs that break down barriers to employment.


Finishing the Job... 2014 Extended Foster Care Seeking to add two additional populations not currently covered: youth employed part-time and those with significant medical conditions.

Veteran Foster Parents: Key to MFM Success The state of Washington is embarking on an effort to expand its utilization of the Mockingbird Family Model as a better way to deliver foster care. The state is planning at least five new MFM constellations that will serve approximately fifty families and an estimated 200 children. The MFM surrounds six to ten families that live in close proximity to a licensed foster care family — a Hub Home — that provides support, training and relationshipbased respite. One key component of the MFM is having a skilled and experienced foster parent serving as the hub parent. One standout caregiver is Anne Travis-Barker, known to all as simply Ms. Anne.

system unexpectedly, and the next night she is providing emergency respite for a child who is in crisis. Another night she spends updating a “manual” that she developed in order to provide new foster parents with helpful tips. Her experience is vast, and it helps her and other foster parents navigate a complex system of care. “You’re not just dealing with social workers and case managers, but also children’s physicians, schools, counselors, and other agencies. It can be daunting to keep up. But I’ve done this long enough to know the ins-and-outs of the system,” said Ms. Anne.

There is no such thing as a typical week for Ms. Anne. Her schedule changes constantly based on the needs of the kids and families she supports. One night she is taking in two children who have just entered the child welfare

“It’s part of my calling to help others. We have to surround the child as a TEAM. I often remind people that these are ‘OUR’ children, and we must all work together to create a winning situation for the kids.”

A Champion for Her Peers in the Mockingbird Youth Network Growing up in a loving guardianship home near Yakima, Yazmin Guinn experienced a level of support that all foster youth hope for, but few actually experience. She excelled in school, developed lasting relationships with friends, and grew up in a safe and loving home with people she was proud to call family. Yazmin wasn’t always aware of the struggles many of her peers experienced. “It wasn’t until my first Mockingbird Leadership Summit that I met lots of kids who were in similar situations to me, but who weren’t so lucky. My mom had told me that not The Mockingbird all kidsSociety in foster care had loving and 2100 24th Ave S, Suite 240 safe homes — but I didn’t believe her Seattle, WA 98144 206.323.5437 until (KIDS) I got involved in my Mockingbird


—Youth who participated in the Mockingbird Youth Network. The MYN brings together youth in a positive, peer environment.


—Youth who participated in the new Homeless Youth Initiative pilot program in King County. Youth are engaged actively in supporting King County’s plan.


—The total number of home placements experienced by 61 youth at the 2013 Youth & Alumni Leadership Summit. Achieving placement stability is a key Mockingbird goal.


—Different schools attended by the 61 youth at the Summit. School disruption is the focus of one Youth Chapter’s advocacy efforts.

chapter. It was kind of amazing, and also sad, to meet everyone and hear their stories. How they were forced to move placements so much, how they never were able to make friends, how they were often abused. It made me want to get involved to help make the system better.” Inspired by her experience at the Summit, Yazmin stepped up to become one of the two Yakima chapter leaders in September of 2012. In this role, she helps plan and facilitate monthly chapter meetings, recruits new members, brainstorms system improvement ideas, and most of all — advocates. “I’m an example that the system can work,” Yazmin says. “I’m a chapter leader with Mockingbird because I’m for what Mockingbird is all about — giving youth the voice they don’t always get when they’re in care.”

ENGAGE. CONNECT. ADVOCATE. The Mockingbird Society’s YOUTH ADVOCACY DAY 2014 Legislative Agenda Lead Show your— support for youth Priorities and alumni of foster care by joining us for Youth Advocacy Day in Olympia! Mockingbird Extended Foster Care: Include the final two populations supporters are invited to join youth in visiting elected leaders in the Extended Foster Care program: youth employed to encourage support of our legislative agenda. You’ll feel part-time and those with significant medical conditions great exercising your civic duty! • Legal Representation for Foster Youth: Ensure that February 22, 2013 youth in care are appointed attorneys to represent them 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in dependency hearings State Capitol, Olympia WA • AllPrudent Standard: Give foster parents the ability ages areParent welcome! to make responsible, appropriate decisions regarding THE CULTURE OF FOSTER CARE foster youth participating in normal childhood activities This dynamic youth-led workshop provides participants with a first-hand understanding of what it is like for a young person to navigate the foster care system. Open to all supporters as an educational opportunity. •

In addition to our legacy issue, Extended Foster Care, The Mockingbird Society will bring a broad range of youth-inspired and community supported priorities to the legislature. Visit for a complete list of our advocacy priorities.

Save the Date: Youth Advocacy Day 2014

Show your support youth and alumni of foster care by joining us for Twofor Trainings Offered! Youth AdvocacyJanuary Day in Olympia! Mockingbird 17 or April 9, 2013 supporters are invited to join youth in visiting to encourage support of our legislative 6:00elected p.m. to leaders 7:30 p.m. February 14, 2014 agenda. You’ll feel inspired while exercising your 2100 Building, 2100 24th Ave S civic duty along with our Please help us stop duplicate mailings. If your household receives youth! All ages are welcome. 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Seattle, WA 98144 more than one copy, please contact Amber Carrigan at amber@ RSVP or questions? State Capitol, Olympia WA To RSVP or for questions: Amber Carrigan: Contact Amber Carrigan: 206.838.6631 or

206.838.6631 or

2100 24th Ave S, Suite 240 2100 24thWA Ave98144 S, Suite 240 Seattle, Seattle, WA 98144


The Mockingbird Society's 2013 Winter Newsletter