Thank you for your recent article, “Inspired by ‘youth stories,’ a bill of rights for foster kids is now Louisiana law,” which has allowed youth voices to be heard once again, as they have been throughout the halls of the Legislature over the past several years in advocating for this bill and for extended foster care.

State Sen. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, who authored both bills, is a champion for our state’s children, their families, and our department. We owe her a huge debt of gratitude.

Giving youth a voice has been the impetus behind the Louisiana Elite Advocacy Force, the state youth advisory board, sponsored by DCFS. The Bill of Rights was written by the members of the Board, who worked over two years to get the bill to the Legislature. While only a few of the youth were able to testify, many more worked behind the scenes to frame the legislation. As Tiffany Cruz and Htet Htet Rodgers, two of the young adults who worked on the bill, have said, knowing your rights and having an opportunity to be heard is critical.

We’re thankful for the youth who have continued to share their voices with us. Their voices help shape policy and practice, and we are inspired daily by their stories.

MARKETA GARNER WALTERS

secretary, Department of Children and Family Services

Baton Rouge