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Intern Update, Blog #1 (Heather Pate)

Heather Pate, 2L

Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute
Protection of Children
Washington, DC

The past few weeks have been quite amazing. When I applied to work with CCAI I had no idea of the magnitude of what I would be doing and the impact it would have on me. They say that law school changes the way one thinks forever (and it is true); I have become more analytical and question everything. Working with CCAI has also changed the way I think. Not only do I analyze the laws and the way they are made, I have begun to analyze the way I respond to daily life compared to the way a child in foster care would. I have gotten to meet and work with the most amazing 15 youth we call Foster Youth Interns. They are a group of 15 college students who grew up in the foster care system for many different reasons but by no fault of their own. Our foster youth interns are working with congress members and CCAI to change legislation for their peers in the foster care system and all those who will come after them. Tuesday, we attended a Senate Finance Committee roundtable hosted by the Congressional Caucus for Foster Youth. Our youth and others shared their stories about how a piece of legislation that was written about 15 years ago has affected their lives. The amazing part is that the people who wrote the legislation were present and were surprised by what it had become – totally different!

I have gotten to see how legislation moves through various parties: from the time those in the field recognize it as a problem to the time it is enacted into legislation. I am constantly on conference calls with working professionals, stakeholder agencies, congressional staff, and citizens who have been directly impacted by bad or outdated laws. Creating laws is all about relationships…finding the right people who can strategize in an effective manner to influence the right people. I am constantly attending meetings and networking with all kinds of people. I am so thankful for the chance to learn all that I am learning. I am still not sure if policy is what I want to get into, but I am learning so much that it will prepare me for anything I hope to do later on. I’m so thankful for this opportunity!

          – Heather Pate, 6/17/12