Giving Foster Kids a Voice
“Oh. My. Goodness! I am literally speechless!”
This was the response from Jessica Grimm on learning that the organization she started, Bravehearts, was selected as a 2018 Child Welfare League of America Champion for Excellence Awardee. Jessica accepted the award on April 28 in Washington, DC.
Jessica and four other young adults who’d been in foster care started Bravehearts five years ago to give foster kids a voice. They wanted to use their lived experience to help government and nonprofits throughout New York understand what kids in foster care need, and to advocate for change. Children’s Village embraced Bravehearts and their mission, and Bravehearts became part of CV in 2015.
“I know you guys see good things in me, but I would not be here if it wasn’t for CV,” said Jessica. “I am honored and humbled to even be considered for such an opportunity! I have never even won a scratch off ticket, let alone such a prestigious award!”
Currently 150 members strong, Bravehearts are young men and women who have been in foster care, were homeless, or were incarcerated. They hold weekly support meetings and offer one-one-one mentoring for kids focusing on changing the conversation from “victim” to “victor.”
Their “Bravery Behind Bars” program is similar in scope, but with an added goal: Helping incarcerated young adults understand that their life has value and that one mistake doesn’t have to derail their dreams. Their latest project, Brave Moms, is focused on helping parenting teens.
CV has benefited from the relationship with Bravehearts, too — helping us to better understand the experiences of foster children. For example, Bravehearts told us they want to be treated as part of a foster family, not a temporary burden. They want to be part of decisions about their future. They crave information on their history. And much more. We’re grateful for their courage to speak out.
For more information on Bravehearts, visit BraveheartsMoveNY.com.