Rene T. Murry CCF Chair

On May 1, I had the opportunity to go to the opening night of “The Long Road Home: Aging Out of Foster Care,” an exhibition organized by Salaam Garage.

With chapters in New York and Seattle, Salaam Garage is a digital storytelling organization that unites journalists, writers, photographers and videographers and with international NGOs and local non-profits to create and share projects to create positive social change. Amanda Koster, the Seattle chapter founder and executive producer, also happens to live in my neighborhood. Working side-by-side on another issue, we found that we are both foster care advocates.

The exhibition and event were inspiring and one reason was that the usual suspects weren’t in the room. Many of us who work in foster care advocacy have been around for years. However, this event was full of new faces—people from all walks of life—who were new to the issues surrounding what it is like for a teenager to age of the foster care system.

Washington state is making gains in the area of providing for our young adults who age out foster youth at 18. We now have extended foster care programs that enable 18- to 21-year olds to remain in the system under certain conditions. It is better than it was, but we can still make improvements.

My hope is that the best is yet to come.

I was proud to be there with Jon Brumbach, board member of the Children’s Campaign Fund and employee of the Mockingbird Society and Laurie Lippold from Partners for our Children. We had a chance to speak to others in the room about the importance of their involvement in continuing to advocate for the children in the welfare system.

Two of the adults profiled in one of the media projects also stood up to speak. Their willingness to share their stories with a room full of strangers was impressive.

The exhibition will be on display at the Art Institute of Seattle until June 18. And it is free!

Salaam Garage creates these media projects to share with others. If you have a place that you feel it could be displayed, go to the exhibition and then contact Salaam Garage. I know Amanda will be excited to talk to you.

You can read more about Salaam Garage on their website. Go take a look at the project. I am glad I did.

Rene Murry Chair of the Board Children’s Campaign Fund

Recently, I was asked how we children’s welfare services advocates stay in the game, when it so often seems as though things never get any better.

There are several reasons for continuing in advocacy.

The top of that list is that children cannot vote. Adults must offer their voices to represent them. We need to be the voice for the young children without food security, a home or safe and healthy place to live and grow.

We need to speak for the foster youth who, through no fault of their own, became dependent on the state and yet when they age out at 18, find that their parent is a bureaucracy.

We need to speak for the children who have disabilities who leave their birth families because their needs for support go beyond what they can provide.

We do need to speak for the youth and young adults who couch surf and have limited access services or adults to provide structure for them.

I was personally touched by the event in North Seattle where a young man, who attended the same school as my daughter, took the life of a man for a cell phone. What should and could we have done to prevent this act?

Our answer is both simple and weighty. We must continue to advocate for all of our children. Because we can and we must. There is no one else. We are their voice.

Thursday, February 6, 2014, Washington state House lawmakers heard a plan to tighten an antiquated loophole that enables oil refineries to save millions of dollars in tax breaks, and prioritize education for Washington children.

This is a great opportunity. We can curb subsidies for fossil fuel companies and channel the money toward investment of our most precious resource--children.

Democratic Rep. Reuven Carlyle of the 36th Legislative proposed HB 2465 "to repeal the $59 million state tax preference for British Petroleum, Chevron, Tesoro and the other big oil firms in Washington and spend the money on public education. We call it the Accidental Tax Break because it was created in 1949 to support small town timber mills, but big oil now takes 98 percent of the money."

Yes, there are partisan concerns. Nevertheless, caring for members of our youngest generations is something both sides of the aisle can agree. It is time for decisive and unequivocal support for children.

I serve as chair of the Children's Campaign Fund, a nonpartisan political action committee dedicated to electing Washington state legislators who champion issues that affect kids. Children's Campaign Fund urges elected officials to revise our tax exemptions in order raise much need money for schools across the state. And encourages voters to amplify their voice in support of kids.

Carlyle recently said, "Our state has 640 tax exemptions on the books. The revenue package I proposed closes just 1.4 percent of them, and virtually every dollar goes directly into basic K-12 education ...Ultimately, we have to ask ourselves what our priorities are--keeping a handful of outmoded tax exemptions, or providing a world-class, constitutionally protected education for our children."

It is time to find the revenue for education. It is time to give adequate investment for quality childcare, early education and public K-12 education. Let us tell our legislators that educating Washington kids is a priority.

About Rene Murry Rene Murry is a long-time children rights community activist and has served served as chair of Children's Campaign Fund since January 2013. In addition to being a small-business owner, she has worked with the Center for Women and Democracy and YMCA Family Services and Mental Health. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of North Dakota and spent several years working as a children's protective services worker with Orange County DSS, North Carolina.

The Children's Campaign Fund is a Political Action Committee in Washington state. The goal is to raise funds and support legislative candidates who champion and advocate for legislation that benefits children and their families.

Sources include: Rep. Carlyle blog

WA Leg Agenda