Prioritizing Youth Voice: The Importance of Authentic Youth Engagement in Case Planning

Date: December 2021

In a system designed to promote the safety and well-being of young people, it is essential to prioritize youth engagement in casework. Youth involved with the child welfare system are experts on their respective situations and should be treated as such. Authentic youth engagement promotes well-being, healthy development, and improved outcomes for young people, and it should be viewed as a principal philosophy to guide daily practice. To truly prioritize youth engagement, child welfare professionals must recognize young people as equal and capable partners rather than service recipients. In individual case planning, this means caseworkers must empower youth to lead discussions about their futures, while providing the support they need to achieve their goals and ambitions. A trusting youth-caseworker relationship sets the foundation for successful youth engagement and relies upon caseworkers investing time and effort into every interaction they have with a young person in care. 

 Acknowledgment(s): Special thanks to the youth who contributed their voices to this publication: David Samuel Hall, Elliott Hinkle, Frankita Jenkins, Madison Langan, and Torie Mendez. 

Suggested Citation: Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2021). Prioritizing youth voice: The importance of authentic youth engagement in case planning. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau. 

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