Erie – The Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Program has selected an Erie resident for the program this year. Britni Burlingham, a foster parent with The Bair Foundation,was in Washington D.C. the week of May 22, 2017
Britni attended a two-day Young Leaders Training Academy to prepare for the meetings with policymakers. Then she shadowed Congressman Glen Thompson from Pennsylvania’s 5th District for a day, giving her the opportunity to gain a hands-on understanding about how the U.S. government works on a daily basis. Britni said, “We all did our very best at the trainings during our stay, and advocating for our current and future foster youth to our Congressman”. Congressman Thompson plans to stay in touch with Britni and wants to visit Erie in August for a listening session.
To be chosen for this program, Britni had to apply and be interviewed. The program is open only to former foster youth. About her classmates, Britni said, “All of these young, and inspiring people have gone through such awful experiences, but yet, they are all highly educated, kind hearted and determined to achieve greatness. Honestly, there were people there who have obtained anywhere from Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s and all the way to PHD’s. We had at least two Dr.’s in this crowd of 109 Shadowers, from 30 different states. One of the young men, is even attending Yale University currently.” Brittni learned about federal foster care policy, as well as what a workday is like for Congress members. She was able to share her experience in the foster care system with the Congressional representative and White House staffers she met, giving them greater insight into the effect of federal policies on real people.
Britni has a unique perspective on foster care in Pennsylvania since she was in foster care herself, is now a foster mother and also works part time for The Bair Foundation, a foster care agency with an office in Erie, PA. Participating in the Foster Youth Shadow Program adds yet another dimension to Britni’s understanding of the foster care system.
Foster parents are needed now more than ever because of the drug epidemic. Any resident of Erie and the surrounding area who is passionate about helping children and who would like to experience the rewards of being a foster parent can contact Bair through the website, http://www.bair.org, or, to receive a free information packet, contact Kelly at 814-833-2247.