Caseworkers advocate for services for individual families and help families learn to advocate for themselves and negotiate with service systems to obtain needed help. Caseworkers can also play a prominent role in empowering and advocating for families to become interdependent members of the community. Family advocacy focuses on the principles of family development, communication skills for workers, and promoting the participation of community residents and families in the design of services.
The following resources address ways to advocate for families and include State and local examples.
From Rights to Reality: A Blueprint for Parent Advocacy and Family-Centered Child Welfare Reform
Rise Magazine (2015)
Encourages parents and parent advocates to rally around a common set of goals. This special issue of Rise magazine outlines 15 proposed rights that Rise believes parents involved in the child welfare system should have.
How to Advocate
North American Council on Adoptable Children
Explains how foster parents, kinship caregivers, young people, and child care professionals can advocate and change the world. The website provides links to learn more about advocacy. Read tips for working with policymakers, explore sample strategies others have used, and learn how to convey messages. A toolkit on adoption-related issues is also included.
Improving Messages in Kinship Care, Foster Care, and Adoption [Webinar]
North American Council on Adoptable Children
Provides access to a webinar on improving public perception of kinship, foster, and adoptive caregivers and their children and youth. The webinar covers tips and tools that can be used to shape messages, information about how language matters in discussions about these topics, and examples.
New Resources and Developments for Kinship Advocates
American Bar Association (2017)
Child Law Practice Today, July
Offers a list of national organizations working on behalf of kinship families and provides descriptions of each, including resources that may be useful to kinship care advocates.
Prevent, Protect & Provide: How Child Welfare Can Better Support Low-Income Families (PDF - 397 KB)
Martin & Citrin (2014)
Center for the Study of Social Policy
Presents information on the state of poor families in the child welfare system and describes how it is important for child welfare systems to consider more sustainable ways to support families' needs and help them on a long-term path of well-being. The report provides examples of ways communities have been helped and lists best practices for working with and advocating for low-income families.
Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going? A Conceptual Framework for Child Advocacy
Cascardi, Brown, Shpiegel, & Alvarez (2015)
Examines the development of child advocacy as a field of study and concludes with a conceptual framework for research and higher education in child advocacy. The article outlines the history of child advocacy, discusses balancing children's rights and protection, and provides a framework for future study.
State and local examples
Advocacy and Political Action Committee
Chicago American Indian Community Collaborative
Describes a program designed to enhance services and bridge communication between the State and communities involved with American Indian/Alaskan Native children and families. The organization also works to identify and advocate for these families and ensure compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act.
Mobilizes court-appointed volunteers to break the cycle of child abuse and speak up for children in the child welfare system in Houston, TX, and surrounding areas.
Children's Advocacy Resource Center
Kansas Legal Services (2018)
Offers support and legal services to people serving and caring for homeless children and children in the foster care system in Kansas. The website also offers information about advocacy and links to several resources.
Children's Ombudsman Offices/Office of the Child Advocate
National Conference of State Legislatures (2018)
Describes the Children’s Ombudsman Office, alternatively known as the Office of the Child Advocate, that many states have established to assist in providing oversight of children's services. The website provides an overview of what an ombudsman/child advocate does and lists their jurisdiction, powers, and duties in each State.
Court Appointed Special Advocates Guardians ad Litem for Children
Supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy so every abused or neglected child in the country can be safe, have a permanent home, and have the opportunity to thrive.
Promoting Safe and Stable Families: Detroit Center for Family Advocacy (PDF - 2,601 KB)
University of Michigan Law School Child Advocacy Law Clinic (2014)
Explores the work of the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy and describes how it has helped specific families in Detroit. The organization provides direct legal and social services while using outreach and training, policy advocacy, collaboration, education, and instruction to push for change on all levels.