Resources: Youth Voice (General)
New Jersey: Keeping Your DYFS Case Open Until 21 in New Jersey: The Experiences of Young People Like You
This video for youth from the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services features interviews of youth talking about the benefits of keeping their cases open past age 18. The youth discuss receiving voluntary services, including housing, financial, transportation, life skills, employment, education, Medicaid, and other services. The video also provides information to youth about how to re-open their case if it is closed.
- Introduction to Youth Voice
From the FreeChild Project. (2008)
- Building Brighter Futures in Indian Country: What's on the Minds of Native Youth?
The report from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention captures the meeting of the 2007 Tribal Youth Focus Group, which was comprised of boys and girls, ages 10 to 17, from 20 tribes across the United States and their chaperones. The focus group was held June 2-3, 2007 in Shelton, Washington. The purpose of this meeting was to bring tribal youth together and encourage an open dialog among them about their communities, families, and life experiences. (2007)
- Youth Voice
This document, prepared for the Region VIII Youth Permanency Initiative sponsored by AdoptUsKids and the NRCPFC, provides a brief description of what "youth voice" means.
- A Self-Assessment Quiz
Use this short self-assessment tool from the Research & Training Center at Portland State University to find out whether your organization is supporting meaningful youth participation in collaborative team planning.
Resources: Youth Adult Partnerships
- Youth Adult Partnerships in Systems of Care
The Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health has produced this resource. It provides an overview of youth-adult partnerships in systems of care and offers suggestions that address challenges that are common in these partnerships. (2011)
- Making It Work: A Guide to Successful Youth-Adult Partnerships
This guide will highlight the many ways that youth and adults can become partners, the levels of partnerships, and what it takes to form and sustain these partnerships. This guide was produced through a joint partnership between the Texas Network of Youth Services and the Prevention and Early Intervention/Community Youth Development Division of the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services. (2002)
Resources: Youth Voice in Evaluation and Research
- Collecting Data from Preteens
If you work with preteens – whether in community, school, health care, or other settings – you probably have needed to ask them questions about their feelings, behaviors, health habits, or other issues at some point. But what's the best way to get good information from this age group? The Preteen Alliance set out to answer that question by commissioning Education Training Research (ETR) to review eight common methods used to collect data from children ages 9 to 13, including surveys (computer-based, PDAs, paper and pencil), diaries, interviews (phone, in person, focus groups), and observational methods. The full report, including briefs on each data collection method and a synopsis of existing local surveys, is available here. (October 2007)
- Children's Views and Experiences of Parenting
The focus of this review from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation is on research with children rather than research about children. Based on an examination of the literature and other documentation, consultations with experts in the field and two focus groups with young people, it explores children's accounts of parenting where 'added value' is gained from including young perspectives. It draws out some of the main conclusions from this evidence, identifies unexplored or underdeveloped research questions, and makes observations on research with young people. (2007)
Resources: Youth Voice Approach/Theory/Practice
- Best Practices for Increasing Meaningful Youth Participation in Collaborative Team Planning
Achieve My Plan is a five-year project that is developing and testing ways to increase the meaningful participation of youth in collaborative team planning meetings. This document shares some of what was learned about how to create plans with youth, so that youth will see the plans as a means to help them move towards important life goals. These best practices are based on a combination of research findings and input from AMP advisors and other youth and adults who are part of planning teams around the nation.
- Engaging Youth in the CFSR and Program Improvements
Download handouts and MP3 audio of this teleconference sponsored by the National Child Welfare Resource Centers for Youth Development and Organizational Improvement. Representatives from the NRCs draw on their experience to discuss promising approaches to engaging youth and highlight a set of tools and resources to help agencies engage youth in leadership activities, and particularly in the CFSR process. A young person shares his perspective on steps agencies can take to effectively involve youth in analyzing and improving child welfare programs. (June 2007)
Resources: Youth Voice in Civic Engagement
- Amplifying Youth Voices to Advance Child Welfare System Reform
Written by Casey Family Services this paper describes the agency’s support of young people in the Connecticut foster care system to effectively advocate for change. It then shares the lessons learned through this engagement process in order to inform other agencies’ efforts to engage youth in systems reform. October 2010
Resources: Guides/Training/Tool Kits
- Handbooks for Youth in Foster Care
Youth in foster care are becoming increasingly aware of their own potential to effect change for themselves personally and within the system. One avenue that allows them to learn more about their own rights and responsibilities, and that can lead to empowerment for them, is the use of handbooks written for and about young people in care. This page links to handbooks from several states.
- Youth Engagement
Young people are valuable contributors in the planning and implementation of programs that impact them. This section of the Toolkit discusses strategies for increasing the effectiveness of their participation and engagement in the process. 2011
- Focus Groups
Focus groups are one strategy for including youth voice in improving services to children and youth in care, and they require proper planning. This section contains tips on conducting focus groups and sample questions and debriefing tools. 2011
- 2007 CFSR ToolKit for Youth Involvement: Engaging Youth in the Child and Family Services Review
Developed by the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement (NCWRCOI) and the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Youth Development (NCWRCYD), the 2007 CFSR ToolKit for Youth Involvement offers practical strategies for collaborating with youth in the Child and Family Services Review (CFSR). This ToolKit contains the following : information to keep in mind when partnering with youth; feedback forms and de-briefing strategies for youth and adults to use while working together; a CFSR Youth Involvement Checklist; condensed descriptions of the CFSR purpose, process, and components; a glossary explaining the “CFSR language”; strategies for implementing surveys and conducting focus groups; sample survey instruments and focus group questions to solicit youth input; and PowerPoint presentations that can be adapted to your state. 2007
- Youth Involvement in Systems of Care: A Guide to Empowerment
This guide is a resource for youth, youth coordinators, family members, professionals, and other adults working with young people. The guide is a starting point to understanding youth involvement and engagement in order to develop and fully integrate a youth-directed movement within local systems of care. (January 2005)
- Participatory Evaluation with Young People
The Program for Youth and Community from the University of Michigan School of Social Work has produced a workbook and a facilitator’s guide to participatory evaluation with young people. Want to assess your skills in partnering with young people? Try the checklist on page 22 of the facilitator’s guide! Then use these resources to help engage young people.
Resources from the States
- Michigan: Fifteen Statements from the Youth Board
As part of a grant from the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, 13 youth boards were formed around Michigan, comprised of and led by youth in foster care or alumni of foster care. At the invitation of DHS, the youth boards sent delegates to Lansing to begin work as a Youth Policy Board. At their first policy meeting, youth decided on priority issues to raise to the Department of Human Services and the Legislature.
- Missouri: Policy and Procedures Handbook of the Missouri State Youth Advisory Board
The mission of the SYAB is to empower Out-of-Home youth to provide input into the policies and procedures for Out-of-Home Care; to provide meaningful leadership training and experiences for board members; and to empower board members who, in turn, can empower children and youth who have experienced Out-of-Home Care. (2009)
- Stand Up Stand Out: Recommendations to Improve Youth Participation in New York City's Permanency Planning Process
Written by the 16 teenage members of the 2006-2007 Youth Justice Board, this report proposes 14 specific recommendations to improve the court experiences and outcomes for adolescents in foster care. The Youth Justice Board, which consists of New York City high school students 15 to 19 years old, spent several months researching New York's permanency planning process – interviewing over 40 child welfare and court professionals, conducting two focus groups of youth in care, and observing Family Court proceedings in Kings County, Bronx County, and New York County Family Courts. (2007)
- Youth Voice Handbook
This introductory guide to Youth Voice shares what, why, who, when, where, and how Youth Voice happens throughout communities. Highlighting examples and lessons from across Washington State, CommonAction provides insights and ideas for young people, youth workers, teachers, and anyone else interested in truly empowering youth to make a difference. Included is a tool that can help you know how Youth Voice is doing in your program, class, organization, or community. This evaluation of Youth Voice can be conducted by young people and/or adults. (2006)
- Reinstatement of Terminated Parental Rights
This legislation, signed into law in May 2007, allows adolescents who meet certain requirements to petition the court to have their parents' rights reinstated. This gives young people who have not achieved permanency through the child welfare system a voice in their lives. Listen to a story about a 15-year-old boy who is the first to ask for reinstatement of parental rights on National Public Radio.
- Foster Youth Help
This site is a product of the California Foster Care Ombudsman Office, whose mandates include ensuring that the voices of foster children and youth are heard, and acting on their behalf. The main topics address the rights, responsibilities, entitlements, and resources available to youth in care and those on the verge of aging out.
- California Youth Connection
The California Youth Connection is guided, focused and driven by current and former foster youth with the assistance of other committed community members. California Youth Connection promotes the participation of foster youth in policy development and legislative change to improve the foster care system. California Youth Connection strives to improve social work practice and child welfare policy.
- Collaboration for Youth Development
This state-led interagency initiative is designed to better align policies and programs and to encourage collaboration among multiple state and community agencies on youth-related issues. The goals of the initiative are to promote the use of positive youth development principles in state policies and programs and to facilitate the use of effective youth development practices in communities throughout Iowa.
AMP is a youth-driven, statewide group that seeks to unleash the full potential for personal growth among foster and adoptive children in Iowa. AMP offers leadership opportunities, service learning projects, speaking opportunities, and educational/vocational assistance. AMP also provides the life skills youth need to become self-sufficient, independent adults.
- Maine: Youth Leadership Advisory Team
YLAT is a team of Maine youth in care (in state custody), ages 14-21, engaged in the education of the government, general public, caregivers, and peers regarding the needs of children and young adults in the child welfare system. Advocating for positive changes in the child welfare system, YLAT members help develop, guide, and revise the Bureau of Child and Family Services policies in order to create safety, comfort, and opportunities for all kids in care.
- Michigan: Foster Youth in Transition
This website was the result of a recommendation made by the Statewide Task Force on Youth Transitioning from Foster Care in 2006. It provides links on how to develop supports, find services, get answers to important questions and just keep you posted on what's new. The website will be updated by members of Michigan's Youth Boards from locations across the state.
- New York State: Youth In Progress
The mission of Youth In Progress is to enhance and advance the lives of today's and tomorrow's foster care youth by giving them a sense of self responsibility. To do this, YIP pledges to educate everyone involved in the foster care system to the realities of this experience. YIP will accomplish this mission by listening to youth in care and by offering them guidance that will allow them to achieve success in their lives and to realize their full potential.
- North Carolina: SaySo - Strong Able Youth Speaking Out
SaySo is a statewide association of youth aged 14 to 24 who are, or have been in the out-of-home care system that is based in North Carolina. This includes all types of substitute care, including foster care, group homes, and mental health placements. The mission of SaySo is to work to improve the substitute care system by educating the community, speaking out about needed changes, and providing support to youth who are, or have been in substitute care.
- Ohio: Overcoming Hurdles in Ohio Youth Advisory Board (OHIO YAB)
This is a statewide organization of young people (aged 14-23) who have experienced foster care. This group has been organizing since July 2006, when they requested help organizing and making their recommendations, created during the 2006 My Voice, My Life, My Future Project, a reality. On February 1, 2007, the youth held a statewide meeting to develop and adopt a name, mission, and official bylaws, as well as elect statewide officers and set goals for 2007.
- Tennessee: Tennessee Youth Advisory Council
The TYCC is a group of current and former foster youth from Nashville and the surrounding counties that work to improve the lives of youth and the foster care system. They decided that current and former foster youth needed a website that they could visit to find information about services, resources, and supports in order to navigate the foster care system.
- Texas: Texas Youth Connection
This project of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services contains resources on hotlines, education, finances, records, diversity, health, contacts, jobs, food, housing, art, books and stories.
- Utah: Just for Youth
One section of this website is especially for youth in foster care and alumni, offering facts, resources, and places to contact for more information.
Youth Stories in Their Own Voice
- Would You Open a Door for Me?
This video from Florida's Connected by 25 initiative presents the voices of alumni speaking about their experiences.
- Breaking the Silence
Ten short digital stories by LGBTQ former foster youth are powerful tales of both the successes and failures of the foster care system. Through these youths' words and images we hear directly about their experiences in state care, as well as their recommendations for better supporting LGBTQ youth in the future. Order a free DVD.
- Youth Participation in Planning: Why it Matters
In their own words and with stories from their own lives, youth describe what it feels like not to have any say in the plans that are made for their treatment, care, education and future. This video was conceived and created by youth, caregivers, and providers in collaboration with staff from the Research & Treatment Center at Portland State University.
- Permanent Solutions: Seeking Family Stability for Youth in Foster Care
Want to know how young people in the system think about "permanency?" Check pages 73-85 of this report from Children's Rights to hear young adults talk about their understanding of the meaning of permanency, planning for permanency, supports and barriers they encountered, and their specific recommendations for making things better for young people in foster care.
- Youth Perspectives on Permanency
This report from California Youth Connection and the California Youth Permanency Project summarizes what current and former foster youth in California had to say on the subject of permanency and lifelong connections. (2004)
Represent is a magazine written by youth in care, which gives inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff useful insights into teen concerns.
- My Voice, My Life, My Future
This collection of art and writings by young people in foster care was assembled by Home At Last and the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles in conjunction with the Foster Care Awareness Month in May, 2006.
- Surviving on Our Own: The Independent Living Survey Project Final Report
This report from Cornell University's Family Life Development Center details findings from an innovative study that engaged a group of formerly homeless youth to study the scope and nature of youth homelessness in an upstate New York county. The Independent Living Survey was completed by 165 youth ages 15-24 who are "on their own." The findings reveal unrelenting self-sufficiency and efforts for a better life while being exposed to and immersed in a culture of unhealthy and dangerous behaviors. This report offers the voices of victimized, transient and vulnerable youth and creates awareness and hope for continued support, dialogue and change. (March 2004)
- 2008 Survey of Washington State Youth in Foster Care
This is the first survey of youth in Washington's foster care system ever done for the Children's Administration. It was requested by the agency as a tool for assessing and improving services to youth in foster care. The survey focused on youth 15 to 18 years of age, who were in foster care in 2007. Particular emphasis was placed on how well foster care youth felt the system had prepared them for living on their own. A total of 11,200 calls were made to foster youth between March 17 and July 15, 2008. A total of 698 interviews were completed. The interviews averaged about 26 minutes long, and questions covered such issues as how the foster youth felt about their current foster home, their relationship with their social worker, sibling contacts, education, outlook on the future and how well the child welfare system prepared them for independent living. (August 2008)