The Mockingbird Society’s mission is to transform foster care and end youth homelessness. We elevate the voices and empower youth with lived experience in the child welfare system and homelessness to serve as experts, advocates, and powerful change agents. Working in partnership with these young leaders, we change policies and perceptions standing between every child and a safe, supportive, and stable home.
We envision each young person, regardless of race or individual experience, reaching adulthood with an equitable opportunity to thrive. When you make a gift to The Mockingbird Society this GiveBig, you're not only standing with our young leaders, but also investing in the wellbeing of our community's children, youth, and families. Thank you for your support!
Each year, roughly 10,000 young people enter foster care in Washington :
- In Washington state, 37% of youth who experienced foster care also experienced homelessness before the age of 17. (Source: Administration for Children and Families)
- High school dropout rates are 3x higher for foster youth than other low-income children. (Source: National Foster Youth Institute)
- 25% are involved in the justice system within two years of leaving care. (Source: DSHS)
- Both foster care and youth homelessness systems disproportionately impact BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth. Although rates of child neglect are the same across race, Black children are 2.2 times and Indigenous children are 2.9 times more likely to be placed in foster care than white children. Black young people are 6 times more likely and Indigenous young people are twice as likely to experience homelessness as white young people. 40% of young people experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ+.
For more than twenty years, Mockingbird's youth leaders have been dedicated to transforming the systems impacting them and the generations of young people who will come after them. We have won 57+ major policy reforms in Washington state, changing the outcomes for over 200,000 young people and prompting more than $252 million in state investment in services and support. In the process, youth advocates develop critical life and professional skills, as well as higher levels of confidence. More than 90% of youth participants surveyed said that advocacy helped them see themselves as leaders—feeling empowered to fight for change. Our agency has:
- Pioneered legislation to extend foster care from age 18 to 21, preventing youth aging out of care and into homelessness. This revolutionary reform has been adopted in more than half of U.S. states and counting.
- Ended the use of jail for non-criminal adolescent behavior (think skipping school and running away), interrupting the pipeline to incarceration that disproportionately impacted youth of color and girls.
- Expanded access to driver's licenses, college scholarships, and ensuring education credits transfer when students move schools - removing barriers to opportunity.
- Passed HB 1219 providing legal
representation to children ages 8+ in dependency court proceedings to help children achieve permanency more quickly, after more than a decade of advocacy with young people, partners, and allies.
- Developed MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™, an alternative to traditional foster care. proven to better support children and families through an extended family model. MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ has been adopted across Washington, the U.S. and even worldwide, with the U.K implementing the program as their primary foster care delivery system.
- This legislative session, $4.5 million has been budgeted for DCYF's (Department of Children, Youth and Families) training, implementation, and oversight of MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ Constellations in every region of WA; training for private Child Placing Agencies to implement MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™; 15 new Constellations across WA over the new few years; and continued funding for current Constellations supporting families and youth.
- Also this session, we helped create pathways for certain youth and young adults to lawfully stay in a shelter for up to 90 days with a support team (i.e. behavioral health supports and legal assistance)--providing a safe haven off the streets, where they are at-risk for unexpected and dangerous situations.
We continue to do more each year in partnership with young people and families and with the support of community members like you! Thank you for prioritizing youth and families this GiveBIG!