23 Dec Crys O’grady, Advocate & Member of National Policy Council
As a member of the National Policy Council, Crys O’Grady is a foster care alumnus in her final year of law school at the University of Washington, and secretary of the Washington State chapter of Foster Care alumni of America. Crys is a Super Advocate. She explains what inspired her to go into law and become a member of the National Policy Council.
“I chose to study law because I did the FosterClub All Stars program, helping with national-level advocacy. When I was doing that, I realized how much of a shared narrative we all have, but how unlikely it is for foster youth to have a podium from which to speak. My mentor noticed how much I enjoyed that and suggested I go into law school. I took her advice.”
“In law, I have the opportunity to affect individuals. Being on the National Policy Council gives me the chance to use my knowledge of the law and my personal experience to impact broader policy change. Many people working on these issues do not have lived experience and so they don’t know how it looks on the ground.”
In October, National Policy Council members gathered in Washington D.C. to share their policy priorities around youth homelessness and foster youth who crossover to the juvenile justice system. Council members met with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service Administration for Children, Youth, and Families, as well as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Crys shared, “Because a lot of people aren’t doing work on behalf of juvenile justice crossover youth, they were surprised and interested to learn that we were advocating for the rights of foster youth in detention and for record sealing. The best part was hearing Council members make recommendations from their own experiences — normal experiences of teenagers and people who have experienced trauma.” She elaborated further, “A funnel into juvenile justice isn’t a good way to address normal acting out behavior of teenagers. Appropriate interventions can have a huge impact on the lives of foster youth who get into trouble.”
Crys’s position on the National Policy Council is helping to inform her work as a Foster Care Alumni fellow this year to develop our national policy agenda in collaboration with our policy and advocacy committee.
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