The Quality Improvement Center on Engaging Youth in Finding Permanency
“When somebody in the agency acted on what I wanted, I felt valued.” —QIC-EY Council Member
Child welfare systems across the country are doing better to involve voices with lived expertise. Youth boards are relatively common, youth are often invited to participate in meetings, and the need for youth voice is being increasingly emphasized.
However, this is just the beginning of the path to authentic child and youth engagement. Authentic engagement means actively and intentionally partnering with children and youth about their lives on their terms and in ways that make sense to them. To authentically engage children and youth, child welfare staff must do the following:
- Be committed, flexible, self-aware, and open to shared decision-making
- Use strong communication skills
- Be guided by knowledge of child and adolescent development and trauma-informed care
- Use a strength-based approach
- Have a vivid self-awareness of potential power dynamics
- Partner with, prepare, inform, and advocate for children and youth
The Quality Improvement Center on Engaging Youth in Finding Permanency (QIC-EY) believes that to truly engage children and youth, you must start when they first enter the system and do it continuously so that when discussions about permanency (whether legal, relational, and/or cultural) arise, a strong foundation is already laid. In a time in their life when so much is out of their control why can’t we find ways to ensure children and youth have agency and are informed, prepared, and given opportunities to make decisions about their life—especially related to permanency.
Ensuring that children and youth in care are authentically engaged, particularly as it relates to permanency, requires a paradigm shift in how the child welfare system understands and views their involvement in decision-making. It is expected that the work of the QIC-EY will bring about systemic changes in how children and youth are authentically engaged in intentional policy, practice, and culture shifts. Over the next four years, the QIC-EY will work with 8 sites to provide support and resources to make transformational changes in how they authentically engage children and youth: Hawaii, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Rhode Island, the Oklahoma Southern Plains (CPT) Consortium, Yakama Nation, and Indiana. The QIC-EY will work with these sites to facilitate system and worker-level changes necessary to support a vital shift in philosophy and practice related to child and youth engagement.
Information and lessons learned from the work of these sites will be available nationwide. Make sure you follow the QIC-EY and join the listserv so that you can learn from the work these pilot sites will do over the next four years.
Here are 3 resources that are currently available on the QIC-EY website:
For more information, visit at https://www.childwelfare.gov.
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