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California Youth Voice Members Advocate for Change in Sacramento, CA!

On April 17th, First Place for Youth hosted our second annual Advocacy Day at the California State Capitol. This significant event brought together our youth representatives from our newly-formed California Youth Voice program, dedicated team, and elected officials to engage in meaningful discussions, build connections, and champion the needs of the older foster youth across the state.

Among the highlights of the day was First Place CEO Thomas Lee’s conversation with KCRA Channel 3, shedding light on the pressing programs facing budget cuts in California including youth housing initiatives, savings programs, and essential support services, underscoring the urgency of our advocacy efforts. Watch a clip of the interview here on our Instagram page.

Throughout the day, our youth and staff voiced their support for several bills directly impacting the lives of foster youth in California, including SB 1079 (Menjivar), the Youth Housing Bond Act of 2024, AB 2477 (Zbur), focused on the savings limit for foster youth, and SB 1322 (Wahab), addressing the Chafee Educational and Training Vouchers Program.

“It was such an inspiration to witness our young people grow in advocating with passion and precision to officeholders how these measures directly impact their lives. I hope it is my first of many Advocacy Days!” shared Youth Advocate, Kierra Blair.

Additionally, we fervently voiced our opposition to proposed budget cuts to vital programs for foster youth, such as the Housing Navigation and Maintenance Program, Supervised Independent Living Placement (SILP) Housing Supplement, and the Family Urgent Response System (FURS).

As the day came to a close, Policy Associate, Maya Meza, reflected, “It was interesting to see how many other organizations had their advocacy day on the same day. Seeing how busy the offices were really put things into perspective. The legislators and their staff had many other meeting requests, but they found time to meet with us. This gave me hope that they saw the importance of our advocated issues.”

Our second annual Advocacy Day provided an invaluable opportunity to introduce a few of the members of our new California Youth Voice to legislators, and provide them with real world experience in advocacy. It also helped our organization establish vital connections that will be instrumental in advancing our policy work. By advocating for critical legislation and funding, we are striving to create a brighter future for the youth we serve.

We are so grateful to all the First Place youth and staff members who attended and contributed to the event’s success. Together, we can empower change and provide a path to success for every foster youth in California!

For more in-depth information about our legislative priorities, please visit our Policy page. 

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