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Former Foster Kid
Pioneering, Empowering, Practical
The Mockingbird Society is the leading, independent voice for foster care reform in Washington state and beyond, built upon youth-inspired solutions and public support for every child's
right to a safe home and bright future.
The Mockingbird Society takes a two-pronged approach:
The Mockingbird Youth Network is the Mockingbird Society state-wide civic engagement program for youth impacted by foster care. The Network taps into the abundant spirit of the young
people themselves through training, leadership development and direct involvement with system reform.
The Mockingbird Society’s Public Policy and Advocacy team works with the professional service community, building coalitions, garnering public support around the urgent need for child
welfare reform across the state.
In addition to the Mockingbird Society strength as advocates, they have long been known for their pioneering work delivering foster care through the Mockingbird Family Model, which has
received glowing evaluations and is being replicated in communities across Washington and the country.
The Mockingbird Society is led by Jim Theofelis, winner of the 2011 Jefferson Award, an enormous honor likened to the Nobel Prize for public service in America. Jim has over 30 years of
experience working with children, youth, and families in the foster care system. He is also the recipient of the 2006 Voices for Children Award from the Children's Alliance, the 2007
Community Hero Award from the Washington State Coalition for the Homeless, and the 2008 Alumni Award for Community Service from Seattle University and the 2005 Congressional
Angels in Adoption Award.
The Mockingbird Society Vision
The Mockingbird Society is dedicated to building a world class foster care system that ensures the care, support, and resources necessary for children, youth, and families to thrive.
The Mockingbird Society Mission
To advocate for systems reform based on the personal experiences of children, youth, and families impacted by the foster care system.
The Mockingbird Society Guiding Principles
The Mockingbird Society belief that all children need the same things – love, care, support and resources – drives everything done at The Mockingbird Society. Seven core principles
encompass their work:
• Children in "the system" are our children, our responsibility.
• Programs do not create nurturing homes – dedicated adults do.
• Systems do not raise healthy children – families and communities do.
• Institutions do not change lives – relationships do.
• The most effective advocacy is innovative and collaborative.
• Families and young people impacted by the system play essential leadership roles in bringing about change.
• The only way to prevent future problems is to look for solutions that address root, "upstream" causes.
• Collaboration, inclusion – honoring all voices – is the heart of building a world class foster care system.
What They Do
Advocate for Reform
The Mockingbird Society tells their stories to policy-makers – and change "the system." The Mockingbird Society is a leading, independent advocate for foster care reform built on award-
winning, youth-inspired solutions, powerful coalitions and public support. We address root causes with the end game of permanent, positive change that ensures foster youth access to a
good education, safe housing, quality health care and community support. And we work hand-in-hand with the hundreds of direct service providers across our state to make sure they
have the policy tools they need to serve our most vulnerable children, youth and families.
Nurture New Leaders
The Mockingbird Youth Network unlocks the leadership potential of young people in care, and puts a face on the policies, budgets and rules that impact them every day. The Network
trains, empowers and taps into the abundant spirit of the youth themselves through award-winning programs as well as direct involvement with system reform.
Deploy a Proven Solution
We know what works. The Mockingbird Family Model is a powerful new way of structuring foster care based on the universal extended family concept. We work with public and private
agencies across the United States and internationally to implement a model that immediately improves safety, stability and outcomes for children, youth and families.
Telling Their Stories
Our monthly youth-led newspaper, the Mockingbird Times, is an award-winning publication distributed to over 22,000 people across the country. Within its pages readers find real stories,
resources and voices from youth impacted by foster care or homelessness. From articles, to essays, to poems and art, the Mockingbird Times provides an outlet for youth to share their
struggles, triumphs and vision for building a world-class foster care system.