WASHINGTON, D.C.— Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, participated today in the sixth annual “Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Day.” Kennath Forsyth-Sears, 18, of Cranston, spent the day with Langevin, joining current and former foster youth from across the country who traveled to Capitol Hill to experience a morning in the life of a member of Congress, share experiences in foster care, and discuss child welfare reform.
“It was a pleasure welcoming Kennath as part of Foster Youth Shadow Day,” Congressman Langevin said. “He is a bright and compassionate young man, who has overcome many hurdles throughout his life. At 11-years-old, he was placed in the foster care system, and by his 18th birthday, he had been moved to over 10 placement homes. All children need the support and love of a family, yet finding ‘forever families’ for foster youth remains one of our biggest challenges. Kennath is a reminder of why we must ensure all children are given the opportunity to reach their full potential.”
Forsyth-Sears explained to Langevin that growing up in the foster care system was not easy, particularly because it was difficult to find an accepting family that was willing to take a transgender male into their home. Fortunately, Forsyth-Sears did find his forever family, and he was adopted just days before his 18th birthday. He now attends Rhode Island College and aspires to work with children with disabilities.
“The foster care system is not the easiest to go through and people may have good experiences; however, I’ve had more bad experiences than good,” Forsyth-Sears said. “At 16 when I came out as a transgender man, it was really hard to feel loved when I know I should have been by my foster families. My trip to D.C. and time with Congressman Langevin allows me to share my story and help the foster care system so others don’t have the experiences as I did. In Rhode Island, I now speak with families willing to adopt so I can make a difference in the system because I believe I can.”
Forsyth-Sears met with Langevin to discuss foster care issues and what can be done to improve the system. He also met with members of Langevin’s staff and learned more about the Congressman’s responsibilities in Washington. Forsyth-Sears later joined Langevin in a meeting with his Rhode Island constituents and attended a Foster Youth Shadow Day luncheon, where the Congressman spoke.
When Langevin was growing up, his parents served as foster parents to several youth, giving him a unique perspective on the difference a loving home can make in the life of a child. In Congress, he has worked to address many of the obstacles faced by foster youth, including the high incidence of identity theft. Langevin authored portions of a 2011 law that mandated free credit checks for foster youth before they age out of the system, and assistance in clearing any inaccuracies from their records. He also introduced the Protecting Adopted Children Act, which aims to curb the practice of adopted children being privately “re-homed” into the custody of strangers without oversight.
Learn more about Foster Youth Shadow Day on Twitter with the hashtag #FosterYouthVoices.