Engage Youth: Listen and Learn
The recently released 2019 Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting System report shows that 20 percent of the over 122,000 children and youth waiting to be adopted are 13–18 years old. While the number of children and youth in foster care decreased in 2019 and the number adopted increased, the percentage of teens waiting remained the same. This is why we devote this year's National Adoption Month to achieving permanency for older youth and, more importantly, engaging and partnering with youth every step along the way.
Young people are the authority on their needs and goals for their life and should be directly involved in recruiting, assessing, and choosing their adoptive family. It is vital that every young person be provided the opportunity to guide their own permanency planning, even if there may be resistance or hesitation in the beginning. The key to successful youth engagement is professionals building an authentic, honest, and respectful relationship with the youth. Through giving youth opportunities to make decisions, both big and small, they can see that child welfare professionals value their voice.
This year's National Adoption Month microsite includes resources and tips to help child welfare and legal professionals engage youth as well as resources to help youth know how they can be involved. Additionally, there are tips for successful youth engagement directly from youth and the Voices of Youth section that features narratives and videos capturing what family means to young people. The Spread the Word section provides an outreach toolkit and sample social media and email messages to help increase awareness about the need for adoptive families for older youth.
3 Resources to Engage Youth in Permanency Planning
For more information, visit at https://www.childwelfare.gov.
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