PRESS RELEASE: FosterClub Honors 32 Outstanding Young Leaders



FosterClub, the national network for young people in foster care, has announced its Outstanding Young Leader Award winners for 2022.

This year there were thirty-two (32) recipients of the award. The award recognizes young people who have experienced foster care for their service to communities and their efforts to improve the foster care system; each recipient will receive a scholarship award. Their stories have been featured on FosterClub’s website and social media channels throughout the month of May, National Foster Care Month.

“These young leaders have persevered through challenging circumstances and are now finding different ways to give back to their community,” says Celeste Bodner, FosterClub’s Executive Director.

For more than twenty years, FosterClub has worked with thousands of young people, empowering them to tell their stories and providing a forum for their voices to be heard. “This group of Outstanding Young Leaders is an inspiration to their peers, and especially to other young people who have experienced the foster care system.”

“Passionate organizations like FosterClub are the reason I am able to attend college today and strive for a brighter tomorrow,” says Richard Liu, from the state of New Jersey and recipient of this year’s Outstanding Young Leader Award. “I know that one day I will be able to pay it forward to the next generation.”

According to data from the federal Children’s Bureau, there are over 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system (Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System / AFCARS FY 2012 data). While the total number of children and youth in foster care has steadily decreased over the past decade, the number of young people who “age out” or become too old to qualify to stay in foster care without finding a permanent family to live with has been on the rise. According to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), over 23,000 foster children will transition out of foster care in 2022. These young people face difficulty defining a successful path for themselves as they enter adulthood, evidenced by  statistics of high rates of homelessness and unemployment and low rates of high school and college completion. Additionally, these individuals also have higher rates of medical and mental health issues than their non-foster peers.

As the national network for young people who experience foster care and in partnership with Lived Experience Leaders, FosterClub drives change in the child welfare system and provides direct support to children and youth. While foster care provides a critical safety net in our society for children and youth, we know that being in foster care can be a very difficult experience for a young person. FosterClub believes when young people have the support they need and opportunity to drive change in their life, they become self-determined and do better. FosterClub also believes when the system listens to young people, it does better.

According to former FosterClub Outstanding Young Leader Ashley Papias of California, “Receiving the Outstanding Young Leader award has helped me feel supported in achieving a higher education at UC Berkeley. I had a community who had my back and helped me feel confident and motivated throughout my first semester of college.”

“There are many ways to support foster youth, but often the best way to help is by providing the means to an education, which will support us for our entire lives.,” says 2022 Outstanding Young Leader Maimunah Qureshi of Massachusetts.

FosterClub would like to acknowledge and thank Home First Development for their generous support as the Inspiration Sponsor for the 2022 Outstanding Young Leader Award.

The story of each of the 32 Outstanding Young Leaders can be read on FosterClub's website. Interested individuals can learn how to support children and youth in foster care at or by contacting FosterClub at 503-717-1552.

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