Sokhom Mao: Child First Leader

What makes a person so passionate about foster youth? In a series of interviews, The Chronicle of Social Change tells you what makes these people superstars in the world of child welfare services.

This week we talked to Sokhom Mao who is on the Board of Directors for California Youth Connection. Sokhom spoke of the challenges he faced as a foster you and how that’s shaped his passion to advocate policy change.

Video Script (Italics represents Sokhom Mao)

My job is to make sure that the legislature, not only in the state, but also in congress, understand that these are our, the nations children. We all have a stake in improving the lives of each and every one of these children lives to be better.

As a former foster youth, Sokhom Mao knows better than most what takes to improve the lives of those still in the system. From foster youth to youth advocate, Mao says his pursuit of better policy for the future is shaped by his past.

From the people that were around me back then when I was in foster care helped me, pushed me, and motivate me to continue to do the advocacy work and to help other foster youth realize their potential and their talents and skills as well.

As a member of California Youth Connection, Mao has played a big role in the push for extending foster care services until the age of 21. And even though the California legislature has passed the legislation…Mao says counties can still push for further foster care improvements.

We need to make sure that counties are not only embracing this but taking the next step and to making sure that when foster youth decide that they want to remain in care not only to let them to remain in care but also say why don’t you try this, maybe college, vocational training, you want ot move to your own place, give them options

And as the fight for funding foster care extensions continue in California with assembly bill 1712, Sokhom says the fight for foster youth nationwide still needs a spark. Mao says there are still plenty of people who don’t understand that the foster care system needs to be fixed.

At this current time I don’t think or I don’t even know if people understand what foster youth is all about. You hear about foster youth all the time but do people understand. Do they understand fundamentals of foster care?

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