In recent years, CLC has taken on a significant role in systemic reform efforts to improve outcomes for foster youth. Indeed, since 2000, we have successfully sponsored 28 pieces of legislation. Because all of our policy work is informed by the experiences of our nearly 30,000 clients, we have been able to realize very concrete and immediate changes for real children struggling against real obstacles. We have helped to enact legislation protecting sibling rights, improving educational stability and attainment for dependent youth, and improving the overall quality of life for foster youth.
We are particularly proud of a group of bills focused on improving outcomes for teen parents and their children. Although we all wish that no one become a parent until are they are truly ready to do so, teens in foster care are estimated to become pregnant at a rate at least twice that of other teens, and 67% of the babies born to teen mothers are fathered by an adult. As a result of our policy efforts in this arena, sweeping changes are being made in the way that teen mothers and their children are served by the child welfare system. We are hopeful that this combined culture shift and strengthening of legal rights will allow more young mothers to exit foster care prepared for the responsibilities of parenthood.