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The loss of a young advocate dedicated to service

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May 20, 2020

The loss of a young advocate dedicated to service

(Photo above from left to right: Kids Matter CASA Program Manager Lance Jones, Executive Director Susan Conwell, and Doshi “DJay” Joi)

“I’m all about youth getting every opportunity that’s afforded to them, because that’s what they’re supposed to get. If they’re not, it means that something has to change.” – Dosha “DJay” Joi, in his April 2020 interview with Kids Matter CASA in Milwaukee

Dosha “DJay” Joi was a friend, a leader, and a persistent and joyful advocate for youth. Once in foster care himself, he dedicated his young adulthood to helping youth aging out of foster care. He was a CASA volunteer for older youth at Kids Matter Inc. in Wisconsin, and a dear friend to staff there. Last week, we lost DJay to COVID-19.

In addition to serving as a CASA volunteer, he was a member of FosterClub—a group of young leaders in and from foster care—and worked to transform the child welfare system as an advocate with the National Foster Youth Institute. He received two Champion for Change Awards from the Wisconsin Department of Child and Family Services—one for his service to the Wisconsin Youth Advisory Council and the other for advocating for the extension of foster care to age 21. DJay contributed to efforts in Wisconsin to improve sibling visits and he advocated for LGBTQ youth in particular.

Shortly after DJay passed away, Representatives Karen Bass and Gwen Moore of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth introduced the Dosha Joi Immediate Coverage for Former Foster Youth Act. The bill would immediately ensure that eligible former foster youth have access to Medicaid until age 26.

DJay was a powerful speaker and an advocate for the importance of personal connection. Susan Conwell, executive director of Kids Matter CASA, shares the following words: “DJay had more impact on us than he could ever imagine… He was always there with words of encouragement and a ‘to-do’ list on behalf of his kids—our kids—foster youth. He left us too soon, and with so much more work to do for our kids.”