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Resources for Professionals

Youth and young adults with experience in foster care—whether they have reunified with family, achieved permanency with an adoptive family, or entered adulthood independently—have valuable insight and perspective that can help improve child welfare practices and educate the community. Professionals can identify and develop new opportunities for youth, such as:

  • Developing youth advisory boards to provide input and feedback
  • Providing leadership development opportunities to help youth build skills and confidence in sharing their perspective, public speaking, or participating on advisory boards
  • Including youth and young adults with experience in foster care or who have been adopted in orientation sessions for prospective foster, adoptive, and kinship families
  • Preparing youth to speak to the media about foster care and adoption as part of your agency’s recruitment efforts

Below are resources to help professionals develop and support opportunities for youth to contribute their input to educate, raise awareness, and help shape programs that impact young people. Resources include national and State examples1

Authentic Voices Video Series: Sharing Our Perspective
Capacity Building Center for States
Provides insight into issues of belonging, connection, development, and normalcy for children and youth in out-of-home care.

Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative
The Annie E. Casey Foundation (2017)
Offers information on the challenges facing older youth aging out of foster care and examines strategies for youth engagement in case planning and permanency.

Media Toolkit for Child Welfare Leaders (PDF - 553 KB)
Gives tips and strategies on how child welfare professionals can work effectively with the media.

Starting a Youth Network
North American Council on Adoptable Children
Provides information for anyone looking to start or enhance a youth network and how to decide what type of group is right for them and their community.

State Youth Advocacy/Advisory Boards & Foster Care Alumni Associations
Series Title Related Organizations Lists
Child Welfare Information Gateway
Availability View
Year Published 2018
This directory lists State Youth Advocacy Boards and Councils, State-based advocacy groups, and foster care alumni associations in each State. Information is provided on the name of the organization, telephone number, website, and the focus of the organization.

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National and State Examples

AdoptUSKids Speakers Bureau
Helps raise public awareness of the need for foster and adoptive families and inspire others by people with firsthand experience sharing their experiences of adopting from foster care.  

FosterAdopt Connect Youth Speak Out
Supports teens with experience in foster care in crafting a message to share, using their life stories as inspiration, with the goal of effecting positive system change.

Strong Able Youth Speaking Out (SaySo)
Describes a statewide association of youth aged 14 to 24 who are or have been in the out-of-home care system in North Carolina. This includes all types of substitute care, including foster care, group homes, and mental health placements.

Youth in Progress
Enhances and advances the lives of foster youth in New York State, as part of their youth leadership advisory team, by supporting a youth’s sense of self and responsibility.

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