Involving and Empowering Older Youth

There are different reasons child welfare and adoption professionals may find it difficult to discuss adoption or permanency with youth in foster care in clear, meaningful ways. Perhaps a young person was initially resistant to the idea, or maybe there were concerns about available families interested in adopting older youth. Regardless of the challenges, youth should be actively involved in any process or decision that involves them and their input should be sought out on an ongoing basis.

This section explores resources and information to help you involve youth in ongoing conversations about the importance of having a wide support system, including family, mentors, and friends, throughout their entire lives.

Youth engagement to promote well-being and permanency

Consent to Adoption
Series Title State Statutes
Child Welfare Information Gateway
Availability View
Download (PDF - 742KB)
Year Published 2013
Discusses State laws regarding the proper execution of consent when a child is placed for adoption. Consent refers to the agreement by a parent, or a person or agency acting in place of a parent, to relinquish a child for adoption and release all rights and duties with respect to that child. The topics covered include the persons who must consent to a child's adoption, the child's consent to his or her adoption, timeframes for consent, and guidelines for revocation of consent. Summaries of laws for all States and U.S. territories are included.

Family Engagement Inventory
Child Welfare Information Gateway
Assists child welfare professionals and related professionals learn how family engagement is defined and implemented across these fields of practice. 

Youth Voices for Permanency: Four Steps Judges and Court Professionals Can Take to Promote Permanency for Youth in Foster Care (PDF - 1,331 KB)
Voice for Adoption & Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (2016)
Provides four easy steps that judges and court professionals can take to help ensure youth in foster care find lifelong permanent connections.

Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative
Provides information on the challenges facing older youth aging out of foster care and also examines strategies for youth engagement and permanency.

Preparing Children and Youth for Adoption or Other Family Permanency
Series Title Bulletins for Professionals
Child Welfare Information Gateway
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Order (Free)
Year Published 2013
Discusses services for children and youth in foster care to address their readiness and preparation for adoption and other permanent relationships. It focuses on ways that child welfare workers and other adults can help to prepare those children and youth whose goal is adoption; however, much of the information on preparation is also applicable to children and youth with other permanency goals. The bulletin examines what has previously been considered adequate preparation as well as current practices and those in development to more effectively ensure that children and youth are better prepared for permanent family relationships, including both legal and relational permanency (permanent relationships with caring adults).

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Listening to the voice of youth to improve practice

Shaping Tomorrow With Today's Minds: Applying Updated Solutions to an Outdated System (PDF - 4,228 KB)
Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) (2014)
Provides a collection of papers written by the 2014 class of foster youth interns from the CCAI. The papers discuss a variety of child welfare topics, including helping foster youth overcome barriers to employment, improving educational outcomes, fostering resilience through trauma informed training and treating children's mental health.

Ten Things That Youth Want Child Welfare Professionals to Know: Talking to Youth in Foster Care about Permanency
National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections, Virginia Department of Social Services, Project LIFE, United Methodist Family Services (2013)
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Highlights the recommendations given by adopted and foster care youth and presents their tips on how caseworkers can talk to youth in foster care about permanency.

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