Debbie Raucher has committed her life to housing affordability and access to education. For the last 12 years, that has included serving as the Director of Education at John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY). In this role, Debbie has led numerous reforms to make higher education accessible for the state’s 60,000 children and youth in foster care.
Debbie never seeks out recognition, so you can imagine her surprise when she was selected by California State Senator Angelique Ashby to be recognized on the floor of the California State Senate as part of a statewide celebration of foster youth, caregivers, advocates and public officials in honor of National Foster Care Awareness Month. JBAY Youth Advocates Cody Van Felden, Emmerald Evans and Aja Dunlap were also recognized by Senator Ashby.
The afternoon ceremony took place on Thursday, May 18th in the chamber of the California State Senate. The presentation included the passage of a state resolution proclaiming May as National Foster Care Awareness Month in California.
JBAY Executive Director Amy Lemley was delighted to see Debbie’s contribution recognized. “Debbie has a special combination of intelligence, creativity and work ethic. I feel so grateful that she has chosen to use these considerable talents to help youth in their transition from foster care at JBAY.”
The ceremony also recognized three of JBAY’s Youth Advocates, including Cody Van Felden. “Being honored today by Senator Ashby means the world to me. Knowing we have policy champions who care about foster youth and put their foot down to take care of children who have no one else gives me comfort, stability, and hope for our future.”
Senator Ashby is currently working with Debbie and the JBAY education team on Senate Bill 307, which would make debt-free college a reality for foster youth. It would do this by covering 100% of remaining unmet financial need for students pursuing an associate’s degree at a community college, or a bachelor’s degree at a California State University or University of California campus.
Senator Ashby is co-authoring the bill with Senator Mark McGuire. To date, SB 307 has sailed through policy committees with strong bi-partisan support.
For Debbie, the success of SB 307 would bring California one step closer to honoring its commitment to foster youth.
“This bill recognizes the unique needs of foster youth, who often struggle to complete college as a result of the challenges that stem from their time in the foster care system, the long-term impacts of the abuse or neglect that brought them to the attention of the child welfare system and a lack of family support,” said Debbie.
“The support shown for this effort to date is an acknowledgement of the potential that these youth have to succeed in college when the necessary resources are provided.”