“If you feel that adults are always telling you what to do, get involved with Project LIFE so you can have a voice in your own future.”
Project Manager, Project LIFE
If you don’t speak up, you may not get what you need. Expressing your needs is the first step toward having them met. Project LIFE is a good place to start because we listen.
- When youth in foster care spoke up about paying to continue their education , we listened. Now you can apply for an Education and Training Voucher valued at $5,000.
- When you spoke up about rights for financial support while in foster care, we listened. Older youth are now eligible for a monthly stipend through their local department of social services.
Now, it’s your turn. What could help you or others in foster care do better? What rights do you want to have? What will make it easier to transition out of care? Your experience and ideas can help us make the system better.
One of the goals of Project LIFE is to create a Foster Care Bill of Rights. It’s a work in progress, but here is a document to get the process started, Needs for Success.
If you would like to get involved in creating the Foster Care Bill of Rights for Virginia, contact Sophia Booker, the Youth Network Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org, 804.343.4461 ext. 1504
How can I get more involved?
Your involvement can be as easy as filling out a survey or going to a conference to learn more about your rights. Or you can challenge yourself by training to become a speaker and advocate for youth in foster care.
You can get skills and training needed to speak out through the youth network, learn how to network and be a leader in the conferences, as well as get important tips on life after foster care.
Want to help us figure out what services the foster system should focus on to make foster care better? The NYTD survey (National Youth in Transition Database survey) is the perfect opportunity to share your experience in foster care, point out problems, and help make changes that will help you and others in foster care.
For youth who are eligible, the NYTD survey should be completed three times: on or within 45 days of your 17th birthday, on or around age 19 and on your 21st birthday. To make change happen, you must complete all three surveys. Keep in touch with your worker to make sure you get the survey when it’s time for you to take it. This is an easy way to make your needs known.
Conferences and Workshops
At Project LIFE’s statewide Youth Conferences, you can meet other youth in foster care, build friendships and learn about your rights. You’ll also have the opportunity to develop skills that will help you live independently. Workshop topics may include:
Networking: Learn to make connections and why they matter, whether the connection is with other youth in foster care or with people who can help you build skills, find work or otherwise show you the way.
Leadership: Being an effective leader can help you in school, sports, your social life and your career. This curriculum is part of the Youth Leadership Institute, developed by Project LIFE to help youth in foster care become confident leaders.
Education: What are your educational options after high school? No, college isn’t the only way to learn more about things that interest you or to build a career. Find out what your other options are.
Public Speaking: With the training offered by the Speakers Bureau, you can be an effective speaker in a variety of settings, including school and work.
Good Credit and Money Management: Your credit rating can cost you a job or limit your housing choices. Find out ways to build and maintain good credit.
Advocacy: You’ll be taught the skills you need to advocate for yourself and for others in foster care so your voice can be heard whether it’s loud or soft.
Do you want to learn more about your rights? Wish you had the support of a group of other youth who face the same challenges as you do? Have something you want to say about foster care? If you really want to speak up about foster care, the Youth Network can train you to become the public voice for youth in care.
Join our group of vocal, trained youth who speak up about foster care and learn to be leaders. Together, the group serves on panels, participates in workgroups and on committees to give input on the issues that affect your life in foster care and your transition out of it. Youth Network members have served on panels at state conferences and spoken to the U.S. Congress.
Be a foster care success story!
Help yourself and other youth in foster care by speaking up, sharing your ideas, getting involved in opportunities to change the foster system and becoming a leader. The NYTD Survey, Project LIFE conferences and the Youth Network are all great ways to take a giant step toward the life you want.