“He said ‘I needed the seat at the table’ versus an agency needing us to have a seat at the table. That’s what made it a safe space. So, if an organization is bringing people to the table—those with lived experience—understand the need. I needed a seat at the table.”
—April Curtis-Rivera, co-founder and board chair, Foster Care Alumni of America
For some youth or adults who have experience with the child welfare or foster care system, sharing their personal stories to help shape policies or programs or advocate on behalf of children or youth currently in care takes an emotional toll. While the experiences of these alumni can positively impact how child welfare agencies provide and develop services, alumni stress the need for comfort, support, and control in how they choose to share their stories.
This episode is the second of a two-part series. “Foster Care Alumni – Making Lived Experience Matter, Part 1” shares stories of successful advocacy efforts as well as insights for agencies on selecting and screening potential alumni partners. This episode, “Foster Care Alumni – Making Lived Experience Matter, Part 2,” focuses on the healing journey alumni take and the importance of community and family support, along with guidance for future or current advocates and recommendations for improving the foster care system.
The following individuals are featured in this episode:
- April Curtis-Rivera, cofounder and board chair, Foster Care Alumni of America
- Latasha Pearson, former member, Foster Care Alumni of America National Foster Youth & Alumni Policy Council
- Victor Sims, former member, Foster Care Alumni of America National Foster Youth & Alumni Policy Council
- Kodi Baughman, member, Foster Care Alumni of America Policy & Advocacy Committee
Topics discussed include the following:
- Why the panelists prefer to be called “alumni" instead of being referred to as having “lived experience” or “lived expertise”
- Guidance for youth currently in foster care or alumni willing or considering sharing their personal story or serving as an advocate
- The importance of ensuring advocates and alumni are comfortable and supported
- Recommendations for the future of foster care