WASHINGTON, D.C., July 14, 2016 –The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), in partnership with the Congressional Coalition on Adoption (CCA), announced the newest CCA co-chair for the 114th Congress: Representative Brenda Lawrence of Michigan.
The CCA is the largest bicameral, bipartisan Congressional Member organization and works to engage Members of Congress on issues pertaining to children in need of permanency and adoption, children in the foster care system, and domestic and international child welfare, as well as to advocate for every child’s right to a safe, stable and loving family. The role of the CCA co-chairs is to lead and actively engage their colleagues in Congress and draft and support federal policies that help place children in families.
Representative Lawrence was elected to the House in 2014. Already, she has passed an amendment that requires the U.S. Secretary of Education to track the educational progress of foster youth in America. It was the first piece of legislation she introduced as a Representative. She is also serving as a host office this summer for one of CCAI’s Foster Youth Internship Program® interns. Lawrence was a member of the school board and served as the Mayor of Southfield, Michigan, from 2001 to 2015. She has served as a strong advocate for foster youth in her district.
“I ran for Congress so that I could help my constituents see a difference in their lives. My district alone has nearly 8,000 children in foster care, who are among our most vulnerable populations. I am honored to be called to serve in a leadership role for the CCA and in coordination with CCAI, where I can have an impact for foster youth in my district and across the country,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence will join CCA’s current three co-chairs: Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Representative Trent Franks of Arizona.
“Protecting foster youth and providing loving and safe homes to children in need through adoption is close to my heart as co-chair of the CCA. Representative Lawrence’s experience in and clear passion for protecting foster youth will help our work to advocate for them,” Senator Blunt said.
By joining the CCA, Members of Congress have the opportunity to participate in programs and events throughout the year that allow them to interact with vulnerable children and youth, the families that care for them, and subject matter experts to hear the stories of the challenges and opportunities they experience and to strengthen federal policy with this information.
“As Senate co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, from a state with a high adoption rate, I’ve had the opportunity to witness the power of adoption firsthand,” said Klobuchar. “I look forward to partnering with our newest House co-chair, Representative Lawrence, to continue to find bipartisan solutions that eliminate red tape and strengthen foster and adoptive families.”
Congressman Franks stated, “Being a co-chair of the CCA has helped me advance my priority of ensuring there is a pathway to permanency for every child in need of a family. I look forward to having Representative Lawrence join us on the Adoption Coalition to advance these important issues.”
The co-chairs and CCA are supported by CCAI, the non-profit institute dedicated to raising awareness about children in need of families both domestically and internationally and to eliminating the policy barriers that hinder children from finding their forever families.
“Representative Lawrence has been able to put her passion for child welfare into action from the start of her work in Congress. Having an amendment pass – one of the few with bipartisan support – is no easy task, and is testament to her commitment and ability in this area. We welcome her to this historic role of leading this premier congressional caucus committed to policies that help foster youth and place children in families,” said Becky Weichhand, Executive Director of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.
Over the last 25 years, CCA Members have led Congress in the passage of legislation that has dramatically improved the lives of children and families including the “The Adoption and Safe Families Act,” the “John Chafee Foster Care Independence Act,” the “Promoting Safe and Stable Families Act,” the “Hope for Children Act,” the “Intercountry Adoption Act,” the “Fostering Connections and Increasing Adoptions Act,” and the “Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act.”
Today there are over 415,000 children in foster care, and nearly 108,000 of these children are eligible for adoption, waiting for families to call their own. Children living in orphanages globally are estimated conservatively at eight million, with unknown numbers living on the streets.