When you are in foster care, you may often feel that decisions are made for you, without anyone listening to what you want. You can gain more control over the decisions that affect you by being part of the Youth Network and learning how to speak up.
Why should I get involved?
If you join the Youth Network, you’ll have the opportunity to:
- Network with other youth who have had similar experiences.
- Create connections with your peers that will last a lifetime.
- Develop leadership skills and become a role model for other youth in care.
- Discuss topics that affect young people in foster care.
- Use your voice to initiate change for youth in the foster care system.
Who’s in the Youth Network?
The Youth Network is made up of people like you who are in foster care or who have aged out of care. The Network is a great way to connect with other youth who face the same challenges you do and who understand where you’re coming from. You’ll find out that you’re not alone and learn how you can deal with the problems that youth in foster care face.
Who’s going to listen to me?
State agencies and social service groups call on Project LIFE for speakers who understand and can explain what it means to be part of the foster care system. Panels set up by the state and local agencies provide opportunities for you to speak. People want to hear a new perspective — yours — and find out what youth in foster care really experience. Panels will usually include 3-5 youth to discuss foster care issues and answer questions. You and your teammates will be trained so you can confidently discuss the issues.
“The Youth Network has given me a voice—a big voice.”
— ZACK, member of the Youth Network
What if I’m not used to speaking up?
You don’t have to be an extrovert or a skilled public speaker to be heard. As a member of the Youth Network, you’ll be taught the skills you need in order to advocate for yourself and for others in foster care. Your voice can be heard whether it’s loud or soft.
We also help you understand your rights so you know what to ask for when you do speak up. As a member of the Youth Network, you’ll be given the opportunity to change your life and the lives of others in the foster care system. Now that’s power.
Take the first step by contacting Sophia Booker, the Youth Network Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org, 804.343.4461 ext. 1504
What is the core group and how can I be part of it?
The youth network recruits youth to advocate at conferences and even speak at legislative hearings. To become part of the core group, you must participate in three or more Youth Network activities, events, meetings, work groups or panels. In other words, you have to be willing to learn about and be committed to advocating for youth in foster care.
What will I be talking about?
Do you want to know why you’re in foster care, what choice you have about the school you go to or your right to participate in extracurricular activities? You’ll learn the answers to these questions and you’ll learn about other rights youth in foster care have. Then you’ll share them with others, from directors of social service agencies to youth in care.
You’ll also be helping other youth in foster care learn to speak for themselves, whether to demand their rights or to prepare for an oral report at school.
What activities are offered through the Youth Network?
The Youth Network offers a variety of activities, such as:
- Regional and statewide meetings
- Training in leadership and advocacy
- Panel discussions
- Work groups and committees
- Facebook chat sessions
- Speaking engagements
Can I make a difference?
You’ll also be talking about rights that youth in foster care need but don’t have yet. Right now, 17 states have a Foster Care Bill of Rights. But Virginia does not have one. Not yet. Changing that is one of the goals of the Youth Network. As a member, you’ll be advocating for new rights that can change your life and the lives of other youth in foster care. You’ll be part of the movement to have a Foster Care Bill of Rights in Virginia.
What are my next steps?
If you would like to get involved in the Youth Network, contact Sophia Booker, the Youth Network Coordinator: email@example.com, 804.343.4461 ext. 1504.
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.