Helping and building up others is a source of strength for Kiana Dean, 21, who was recently selected to attend Washington D.C. on May 23, where she will participate in the National Foster Youth Institute’s Congressional Foster Youth Program. Deane, a former foster youth will shadow foster youth advocate, Congresswoman Karen Bass.
In D.C., Deane said she will be pushing for: placing foster kids in homes instead of group homes, fighting for the inclusion of Teens in AMBER ALERTS (Even if they are runaways, they are still minors. Someone needs to search for them, said Deane) and stronger policies, ie. Accountability, ensuring all foster parents are qualified and trained.
“I’m honored to attend and I feel so blessed to have been selected to be a part of this,” Deane told the Sentinel in a recent interview.
“I hope I can make a difference and I want to use my story to help others.”
Deane was born one of several children to what the social justice system calls street junkies, addicted to meth upon her arrival. She grew up in foster care with partial paralysis to her face. A surgery at Children’s Hospital didn’t do much to correct the problem but that didn’t stop Deane from keeping a positive outlook, nor did it stop her from keeping with her mission.
“I have two goals,” said Deane.
“One of them is to run my business called My Voice Speaks. And the other is to be a television news assistant”
My voice speaks is Deane’s forum, that addresses topics germane to her generation. Her most recent event was at USC, where she moderated with about four different topics.
Deane was selected from over 500 “impressive applicants”, according to an acceptance letter she received from NYI. The candidate selection process is “very competitive”, according to NYI officials. From the 500, only 100 applicants are actually selected.
“The National Foster Youth Institute envisions a nation where all children are raised in safe and loving families and where the child welfare system serves as a beacon of hope for families in need,” said NYI officials via their website www.nfyi.org.
“To achieve our vision, we aim to transform the child welfare system and vastly improve outcomes for foster youth by empowering the youth and their families, building a grassroots movement in 435 congressional districts across the country, and partnering with committed policymakers. Truly transformative foster care reform will not come to fruition until the individuals who have personally experienced the child welfare system have a strong voice in the policymaking process. And NFYI is dedicated to ensuring their place at the table…”